September was another mixed month for markets, and in a reversal of the trends seen so far this year UK stocks outperformed the US market, with the FTSE 100 posting a 2.4% gain versus the S&P 500’s 4.8% loss.
The UK market was boosted by rising oil prices, with Shell and BP – who between them form nearly 14% of the FTSE 100 – rising 8.1% and 9.0% respectively. Meanwhile larger names in the US declined on fears that rates would remain higher for longer, with Amazon and Apple relinquishing 7.9% and 8.9% respectively.
The latest UK inflation figures from the ONS showed the Consumer Prices Index dipping from 6.8% to 6.7% in August, which came as a surprise to forecasters who had expected the index to rise. The unexpected dip led to the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee voting 5-4 in favour of keeping the UK’s base rate static, rather than implementing another hike. Despite this gilt yields have continued to rise in anticipation of rates staying high, with the ten year gilt yield rising from 4.36% to 4.44%. US treasury yields have risen more sharply, with the 10 year rate jumping from 4.11% to 4.57% during the month.
Full round-up of September market performance
In the UK, the FTSE 100 index gained 2.40% while medium and smaller companies, measured by the FTSE 250 ex IT index and the FTSE Small Cap ex IT index respectively, returned -1.62% and 1.26%. In the US, the S&P 500 USD index declined 4.77% while in Europe the Eurostoxx 50 EUR index lost 2.77%. Japanese stocks measured by the Topix JPY index rose 0.51%.
Emerging markets returns were mostly negative, with the MSCI Emerging Markets index declining 1.75% in local currency terms. Chinese stocks measured by the MSCI China CNY index dropped 2.83% while Latin American equities, measured by the MSCI Latin America local currency index, conceded 0.46%. However Indian stocks measured by the Nifty 50 INR index gained 2.00%.
In the fixed income market, UK government bonds, measured by the FTSE Gilts All Stocks index, declined 0.95% with long-dated (over 15 years to maturity) gilts losing 3.76%. Sterling denominated corporate bonds, measured by the Markit iBoxx Sterling Corporates index, crept up 0.17%. In the high yield market, the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Sterling High Yield index picked up 1.15%.
In the commodities market, the S&P GSCI USD index, which consists of a basket of commodities including oil, metals and agricultural items, gathered 4.12%. Crude oil futures continued to rise as they increased 8.56% during the month. Returns were mixed in the agricultural markets, with corn and wheat futures returning 3.42% and -5.50% in USD respectively. The precious metals markets saw negative returns with the S&P GSCI Gold and Silver indices declining 4.67% and 9.13% in USD respectively.
In the currency markets, it was a poor month for the pound as it depreciated 3.74% versus the US dollar, 1.28% against the euro and 1.20% versus the yen.