After a downturn in May, markets were back in positive territory in June, helped by trade tensions easing a little and increased speculation over possible interest rate cuts. Despite the blip in May, global markets have performed strongly so far this year. Six months in, and the MSCI World Total Return index, which measures global developed equity markets, has increased 16.7%:
The S&P 500 index, which measures US equities, reached a new all-time high on 20th June, exceeding its previous peak from two months ago.
The race to become new Conservative leader and Prime Minister saw the candidates whittled down to the final two: former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and current Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt. Brexit’s been a key topic in conferences and debates so far. Johnson has said he is determined for the UK to leave the EU by 31st October, the current deadline, while Hunt said he’s open to an extension if a deal comes within reach. The leadership contest results will be announced on 23rd July with the new Prime Minister appointed the following day. At the time of writing, the market places Johnson as the big favourite to win, with an implied probability of 88%.
The Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, has called for changes to regulations concerning funds that invest in illiquid assets and allow instant withdrawals. He accused these funds of being ‘built on a lie’ as daily liquidity is not guaranteed. This statement came in the wake of withdrawals from Neil Woodford’s equity income fund being frozen due to liquidity constraints.
A full round-up of June market performance
In the UK, the FTSE 100 index rose +3.97%, while medium and smaller companies, measured by the FTSE 250 ex IT index and the FTSE Small Cap ex IT index, returned +2.91% and -2.27% respectively. In the US, the S&P 500 index surged +7.05%, while in Europe the Eurostoxx 50 index gained +6.04%. Japanese stocks measured by the Topix index put on +2.76%.
Emerging market returns were also mostly positive. The MSCI Emerging Markets index increased +4.69%. Chinese equities measured by the MSCI China index picked up +7.77% and Latin American equities, measured by the MSCI Latin America index, lifted +3.84%. However Indian stocks measured by the IISL Nifty 50 PR index slipped -1.12%.
In the fixed income market, UK government bonds, measured by the FTSE Gilts All Stocks index, rose +0.16% and long dated (over 15 years to maturity) gilts gained +0.15%. European corporate bonds, measured by the Markit iBoxx Euro Corporates index, gathered +1.60% while sterling denominated corporate bonds, measured by the Markit iBoxx Sterling Corporates index, increased +1.58%. In the high yield market, the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Euro High Yield index and the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Sterling High Yield index captured +2.46% and +1.71% respectively.
Commodities had a mostly positive month. The S&P GSCI index, which consists of a basket of commodities including oil, metals and agricultural items, was up +4.43%. Oil in particular performed well as the price of a crude oil futures contract soared +9.29%. The precious metals also rallied as the S&P GSCI Gold and Silver indices returned +8.01% and +4.97% respectively. The agricultural markets were also mixed, with corn and wheat moving -2.76% and +3.43% respectively.
In the currency markets, it was a mixed month for the pound, as it appreciated +0.52% against the US dollar and lost -1.32% against the euro.