Russell Investments’ quarterly outlook: Strategists forecast generally positive trajectory for the global market
* Models still favor equities over bonds, cash; show attractive valuations in Europe, Japan
* Emerging markets likely offer value for the medium term, despite uncertainty in China
SEATTLE — Russell Investments has released its quarterly outlook for global capital markets, projecting continuing improvements in the U.S., Europe and Japan. The 3rd Quarter Strategists’ Outlook and Barometer features in-depth analysis of key economic and market indicators by Russell’s global team of investment strategists, who help guide Russell’s multi-asset portfolios and services.
In the report, Russell’s team of global strategists project steady growth in the U.S. market over the next 24 months, forecasting the U.S. economy has sufficient spare capacity to grow without generating inflation pressures.
Even after the strong upward run in global equity markets, Russell’s strategists favor equities over bonds and cash, although equities are expected to outperform bonds by a smaller margin than in the first half of 2013. Within global equities, Russell strategists prefer Europe and Japan due to slight improvements in the Eurozone, the success of ’Abe-nomics’ in Japan, and the overall attractiveness of Japanese and European equity valuations relative to U.S. valuations.
“We expect in the months ahead to see economic growth in the U.S. remain modest but robust, Europe to emerge from recession and Japan to accelerate,” said Andrew Pease, global head of investment strategy for Russell Investments. “The gains in global equity markets and rises in bond yields mean that we head into the second half of the year with equity markets offering reasonable, but not outstanding value and with bond markets less dangerously overvalued.”
In the video below, Andrew Pease offers a summary of the global team of strategists’ investment strategy outlook for the second half of 2013 and beyond. The video is also available on russell.com.
Emerging markets may underperform in the near-term, but prospects are improving
Conditions in emerging markets remain challenging for equities, given the strengthening of the U.S. dollar (USD), falling commodity prices and general geopolitical upheaval in countries from Brazil to Egypt. However, Russell’s strategists believe an export recovery and a settling of the current uncertainty around China could serve as catalysts for a rebound in the medium-term.
“Emerging markets offer good value and could rebound as exports recover amid stronger growth in developed economies and if EM central banks allow their currencies to depreciate against a stronger USD,” Pease said.
Despite some challenges, U.S. economy likely to generate stable growth
Russell’s strategists believe that U.S. employment gains will likely average 200,000 jobs per month for the next 24 months, though they may decelerate modestly in the very near term. The first increase in the federal funds rate likely won’t take place until the fourth quarter of 2015. However, the June revision to the annualized real consumption figure, which lowered the growth rate from 2.9% to 1.8%, implies less momentum going into the second half of the year.
Another challenge, according to the strategists, will be the U.S. Federal Reserve’s (the Fed) wind down of quantitative easing that is likely to begin in 2013, though it is the end date (and not the beginning date) that is most significant, even though the Fed is unlikely to hit their growth, inflation and Treasury yield targets this year.
“Many investors fear that our current economy resembles 1994 where the Fed policy tightened dramatically, leading to a sudden rise in yield rates and choking equity growth,” said Mike Dueker, chief economist for Russell Investments. “Our perspective is that the economic conditions today parallel 1984 more closely, when a bullish U.S. economy forged the way for stable global growth. Similarly, we expect the U.S. economy to be characterized by moderate inflation, a low recession risk and stable growth in the coming months.”
The Eurozone has a bumpy road ahead but will likely exit its recession in Q3
Russell’s strategists believe Europe will continue down a bumpy road in 2013, remaining in a tug-of-war between reflationary monetary policy and deflationary austerity. Although the European Central Bank (ECB) continues to support looser monetary policy, boosting the outlook for both consumer and industrial confidence within the Eurozone, the strategists believe growth will remain weak due to negative credit growth, high unemployment, the unlikely prospect of political reform and stagnated growth in Southern Europe.
Before the end of 2013, the strategists predict that Europe should finally escape recession as austerity eases and credit creation slowly unfreezes. Greek debt restructuring, Spanish banks’ weakness and uncertainty surrounding the Italian government all still present risks but these should not be insurmountable. Equity valuations in Europe are attractive relative to the rest of the world, and the strategists see more profit upside than in the U.S. market. Their overall outlook for European equities, therefore, is a slight upgrade from underweight to neutral.
Asia-Pacific offers value in Japan, China and Australia
Russell strategists have positive growth expectations for both Japan and China. Japan has experienced strong real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth so far in 2013, and business conditions and industrial production are showing tentative signs of improvement. In China, real GDP growth expectations are slipping, but authorities are prioritizing reform over short-term growth and constructively restructuring to address corruption and imbalances in the economy. Australia is facing a slowdown, but encouraging signs remain in housing finance.
Russell’s strategists also offer a look at key global asset class pairings to determine which asset class in each pair currently signals better return prospects. “Perhaps one of the more interesting signals this quarter is the comparison of two relatively attractive equity asset classes: continental European equities and Japanese equities; the former facing a momentum headwind, the latter strongly supported by momentum,” said Douglas Gordon, senior investment strategist, North America. “Japanese equities have driven much of the performance in global equity portfolios in 2013, and European equities have started to become more attractive given the high valuation of U.S. equities and some mitigation in policy and political risk. Between the two, we see a rotation toward Japanese equity, and we would continue to favor Japanese equities in our global equity basket or non-U.S. developed equity exposure.”
For more information, please see the “Strategists’ Outlook and Barometer”: http://www.russell.com/documents/corporate/strategists-outlook-and-barometer-3Q2013.pdf
About Russell Investments
Russell Investments (Russell) is a global asset manager and one of only a few firms that offers actively managed multi-asset portfolios and services that include advice, investments and implementation. Russell stands with institutional investors, financial advisors and individuals working with their advisors—using the firm’s core capabilities that extend across capital market insights, manager research, portfolio construction, portfolio implementation and indexes to help each achieve their desired investment outcomes.
Russell has more than $237 billion* in assets under management (as of 6/30/2013) and works with over 2,500 institutional clients, independent distribution partners and individual investors globally. As a consultant to some of the largest pools of capital in the world, Russell has $2.6 trillion in assets under advisement (as of 12/31/2012). It has four decades of experience researching and selecting investment managers and meets annually with more than 2,200 managers around the world. Russell traded more than $1.4 trillion in 2012 through its implementation services business. Russell also calculates approximately 700,000 benchmarks daily covering 98% of the investable market globally, which includes more than 80 countries and more than 10,000 securities. Approximately $4.1 trillion in assets are benchmarked to the Russell Indexes.
Headquartered in Seattle, Washington, Russell operates globally, including through its offices in Seattle, New York, London, Paris, Amsterdam, Sydney, Melbourne, Auckland, Singapore, Seoul, Tokyo, Toronto, Chicago, San Diego, Milwaukee and Edinburgh. For more information about how Russell helps to improve financial security for people, visit www.russell.com or follow us @Russell_News.
*includes about $69 billion of derivative overlay AUM not included prior to June 30, 2013.
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