BlackRock Investment Institute’s 2014 Mid-Year Investment Outlook:
"LIFE AFTER ZERO" COULD POSE RISKS AS EASING ENDS, MARKETS LOOK FOR
Growth Will "Tick Up" But Remain Below Trend; Valuations
Stretching, Risk Assets Grind Higher
Emerging Markets Stabilized, Set for Rebound
Diverging Global Central Bank Policies: A Tale of Two Groups
US Economy Could See Cyclical Pick-Up; A "Low Bar" in Europe for Growth
NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Valuations are becoming stretched across markets, setting up the markets for more volatility -- especially as US quantitative easing ends and focus shifts to prospective US interest rate rises, according to the BlackRock (NYSE:BLK) Investment Institute’s (BII) Mid-Year 2014 Investment Outlook.
“In the emerging markets, selection is key, as countries develop at very different speeds”
The Mid-Year Outlook, “Life After Zero," provides an update on the Institute's previously released 2014 global market view, examining such key questions as "what does life after zero (rates) look like?" and offering specific asset guidance for the remainder of the year. The BII maintains its view that a “low for longer” scenario will continue to play out through the remainder of 2014, under which real rates and overall volatility stay subdued.
“Easy monetary policies by central banks have pushed down yields, encouraging risk taking and inflating asset valuations,” says Peter Fisher, Senior Managing Director of the BlackRock Investment Institute. “In today’s environment, markets are more susceptible to volatility as investors shift their focus away from the end of U.S. quantitative easing and towards concerns about the timing and magnitude of future interest rate hikes.”
"The longer monetary policy hinders volatility, the more stretched valuations become, and the greater the risk of equity markets disconnecting from earnings growth,” said Russ Koesterich, BlackRock’s Chief Investment Strategist.
Stage Set for Emerging Markets Rebound
Over the past six months, the biggest change globally, the BII believes, was that a brewing crisis in emerging markets stabilized. Many economies have adjusted and started closing current account deficits, setting the stage for an economic and market rebound.
"In the emerging markets, selection is key, as countries develop at very different speeds," Koesterich says. "We favor countries with strong balance sheets that are implementing reforms to make their economies more competitive (think Mexico)."
With risk assets grinding higher and volatility extremely low, the BII “would get worried if we were to see leverage rise much further. In the meantime, brace for shifts in internal market dynamics (think the equity momentum reversal this spring).”
Diverging Global Central Bank Policies: A Tale of Two Groups
The BII expects central bank monetary policy to continue to diverge between regions, with the U.S. Federal Reserve and the Bank of England moving towards a period of tightening, in contrast to the European Central Bank and Bank of Japan which look set to remain with loose policies for some time.
“This divergence goes some way towards explaining BlackRock’s asset preferences,” said BlackRock Investment Institute’s Chief Investment Strategist, Ewen Cameron Watt. “We broadly favor European and Japanese equities, both supported by accommodating central bank measures, while anticipated rate hikes and the year-end cessation of quantitative easing leads us to be more cautious towards U.S. and, to some extent, UK risk assets.”
US Economy Could Pick Up Speed
The US economy has been "cruising below its speed limit for years," the BII notes, yet it could be on the verge of a cyclical pickup, driven by pent-up demand for housing, the fading of the fiscal drag from spending cuts and tax hikes, and a near-term increase in capital spending.
As conditions continue to improve, one risk is that the Fed may stay "low for too long," which could eventually result in a rapid series of growth-braking rate hikes.
"More likely is that the market itself would do the tightening, with yields rising in response to a pick-up in core CPI," the BII says. "Could this awaken volatility from its long slumber?"
A Low Bar for European Growth Surprise
Across Europe, the bar is low for growth to surprise on the upside. The European Central Bank (ECB)'s resolve to prevent the eurozone from falling into a deflationary spiral is likely good news for European risk assets.
"Watch current account balances to gauge competitiveness and the ECB's maneuvering room to start an asset purchase program." the BII says.
As one example, the BII notes, a falling surplus in Germany could lead to renewed efforts by the ECB to push down the euro -- and a "melt-up" in European equities.
Bullish on Japanese Stocks, Wary on China Growth Trend
Despite recent underperformance in Japanese equities, the BII is maintaining a bullish stance, supported by "Godzilla-like" QE by the Bank of Japan, cheap valuations, structural reforms to boost economic growth, and a rise in domestic investor interest.
For China, GDP growth expectations have come down, but could probably edge even lower, with the country's investment fueled growth not sustainable, in the BII's view. "A lot depends on China's export machine, which makes up a quarter of GDP," the BII says. "If exports hold up, the government has more maneuvering room. Any downside surprises to export growth could set in motion a vicious cycle."
So What Do I Do With My Money?
The BII offered region-by-region investment recommendations for 2014's second half:
- Buy volatility. It is cheap and the risk of binary outcomes is growing.
- Look for relative value in bonds and consider long-short for equities.
- Buy cyclicals, energy and large cap value. Caveat: Earnings need to come through.
- Underweight peripheral debt. Risks are now skewed to the downside.
- Buy (hedged) Australian rates as slowing China demand hits hard.
- Contrarian: Buy banks (a cheap and easy way to profit from an equity rebound).
- Buy (hedged) Japanese equities.
- Favor active management: Not all boats will float.
- Buy select local debt (Brazil and Mexico).
Investment strategies mentioned may not be suitable for all investors, depending on investor guidelines and market conditions at the time of investing.
The BlackRock Investment Institute Mid-Year 2014 Outlook can be found:
BlackRock is a leader in investment management, risk management and advisory services for institutional and retail clients worldwide. At March 31, 2014, BlackRock’s AUM was $4.401 trillion. BlackRock helps clients meet their goals and overcome challenges with a range of products that include separate accounts, mutual funds, iShares® (exchange-traded funds), and other pooled investment vehicles. BlackRock also offers risk management, advisory and enterprise investment system services to a broad base of institutional investors through BlackRock Solutions®. Headquartered in New York City, as of March 31, 2014, the firm had approximately 11,500 employees in more than 30 countries and a major presence in key global markets, including North and South America, Europe, Asia, Australia and the Middle East and Africa. For additional information, please visit the Company’s website at www.blackrock.com.
About the BlackRock Investment Institute
The BlackRock Investment Institute leverages the firm’s expertise across asset classes, client groups and regions. The Institute’s goal is to produce information that makes BlackRock’s portfolio managers better investors and helps deliver positive investment results for clients.
|Executive Director||Lee Kempler|
|Executive Editor||Jack Reerink|
|Chief Strategist||Ewen Cameron Watt|
The opinions expressed are as of June 26, 2014 and may change as subsequent conditions vary. The information and opinions contained in this material are derived from proprietary and non-proprietary sources deemed by BlackRock to be reliable, are not necessarily all inclusive and are not guaranteed as to accuracy. There is no guarantee that any forecasts made will come to pass. Reliance upon information in this material is at the sole discretion of the reader. This material is not intended to be relied upon as a forecast, research or investment advice, and is not a recommendation, offer or solicitation to buy or sell any securities or to adopt any investment strategy.
BlackRock® is a registered trademark of BlackRock, Inc. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.
© 2014 BlackRock, Inc. All rights reserved.