top of page
  • Belvedere Group

June 2023 Market Commentary

Updated: Oct 4, 2023

Developed Markets Update


Executive Summary


  • The latest economic performance news from Europe showed a contraction in the continent's manufacturing sector last month. This snapshot gauges the level of activities in the manufacturing services and industries, with services comprising nearly 75% or three-quarters of the entire Eurozone economy. We share the perspective that Europe is experiencing a slowdown, which is supported by the notable increase in interest rates implemented by the European Central Bank (ECB), marking one of the most substantial hikes in decades. Hence, we believe that this is not surprising that the continued increases in the cost of borrowing are causing less economic activity in the manufacturing sector.


  • The number of jobs in the world's largest economy has witnessed a significant increase for the fourteenth-straight month, with the United States overpowering through the strongholds of an economic recession and the rising interest rate journey of the Federal Reserve. For context, the economy added 339,000 new jobs which was higher than the 294,000 jobs added in the previous month. In other economic indicators, the country’s unemployment rate hits its highest rate at 3.7% since the pandemic era in 2020. In our opinion, the historic new jobs added in the US could be further justified for subsequent rate hikes by the Federal Reserve. However, we believe that with companies still laying off workers and expectations of an immediate recession, the new job numbers could be a signal that the economy is retracing its steps in the direction of a sustained economic recovery.


Markets Summary


The developed markets saw a positive close in net return for the month ended June 2023. Our review of the MSCI World Index and the S&P 500 showed a close in the green of 6.05% and 6.57% respectively. Furthermore, the FTSE 100 which tracks the performance of the largest-100 stocks on the London Stock Exchange also saw a positive net return of 4.01%. In our view, the positive performances can be attributed to the notable gains achieved during the month by prominent blue-chip companies like Tesla, Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon. These gains further exemplify the ongoing growth and increasing contribution of these blue-chip companies to the overall returns of developed market indices. Furthermore, we also anticipate the release of second-quarter earnings from these companies in the coming weeks to proffer a better guide to our investment approach and recommendation for the rest of the year.


Performance Analysis:


Our $10K relative analysis for June 2023 visualizes the S&P 500 unsurprisingly continuing its higher returns for investors with a total return of $31,688 over a ten-year investment period with an initial investment of $10,000. This outperformed the return generated by the MSCI World and FTSE 100 of $24,792 and $14,803 respectively. Conclusively, we believe that the broad S&P 500 index continues to prove its superiority of returns in a passive investment selection of these three indices in the developed markets.




Tesla (TSLA.O) enjoyed a 13-day streak of gains that saw the Automaker giant gain more than $200 billion in its value in June 2023. Tesla’s valuations increased exponentially after it announced the adoption of a charging system by Ford and General Motors while the Nvidia Corporations led the charge for the S&P 500 with 180% gains. Nvidia Corporations’ high portfolio returns are powered by the hype around new generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology. Similarly, Apple closed the month positively by 46% based on optimism about its newly integrated VR Goggles. In June, Amazon and Microsoft Corporations had a relatively lesser impact on the field of AI compared to Tesla, Nvidia, and Apple.



Europe’s Economic Activity Sluggish in June


In other news, Europe’s second-largest economy, the United Kingdom, continued to witness prices going over the roof, suppressing expectations of a slowdown. The latest figure recorded at 8.7% was higher than the preceding month’s increase in prices of 8.4%, signalling a further drain in the purchasing power of the economy, coupled with the cost-of-living crisis causing hardship in the UK. Our further review of the price trajectory in the UK showed that the latest number also surpassed expectations by economists for the fourth consecutive month and exceed the Bank of England’s preferred target rate of 2%.


Furthermore, we forecast that a continued speed bump in the European economy would put further pressure on the ECB to commence slowing down the pace of interest rate hikes. However, a slowdown in rates would also cause a decline in the interest on bank savings accounts. Thus, the higher rates in other developed markets such as the United States would see investors becoming more attracted to these higher rates that are readily available in economies like the US, to the detriment of Europe.




Our review of inflation data attributes its major contributors to the rise in car prices, cost of recreation, and airline tickets. Similarly, the core inflation, which excludes the prices of volatile food items such as food and energy, increased to a 30-year high of 7.1%, 30 basis points higher than the 6.3% recorded in the previous month. In our opinion, the continued jump in prices could lead the BoE to further raise rates which could be a double-edged sword for the economy as it could slow prices on one edge and potentially cause a deterioration in the level of business activities on the other edge.


We urge our clients to exercise caution when considering investment positions in manufacturing companies within Europe due to the prevailing uncertainties surrounding the sector's future. It is expected that stagnant wages and a decline in purchasing power will contribute to a decrease in the sector’s activity. Furthermore, the UK carries a high risk as the government's debt has surpassed the size of the economy for the first time since 1961. Consequently, a potential economic decline would exacerbate the country's debt profile.



Jobs on a Rollercoaster in the United States


In other economic trends, the US Commerce Department announced that the country’s orders for non-defence capital goods excluding aircraft, a closely watched measure for business spending, rose to 0.7%, exceeding forecasts by economists that orders would remain unchanged. Thus, this sent major stock indices in the country into positive territory as the blue-chip stocks recovered with the positive capital goods data signaling confidence in the economy amid the increasing interest rate. We believe that the Fed is inching close to drawing the curtains to its rate hike regime in its forthcoming policy meeting in July. Furthermore, we anticipate the stock market in Uncle Sam to record gains in the second quarter of this year, with the impressive job numbers, positive earnings reports, upbeat growth stocks, and our expectations that the Fed will soon put a grip on its hawkish run-on interest rate.



Similarly, the US dollar was steady against other currencies as market participants remained positive about the strong jobs data and the forthcoming non-farm payrolls expected on the first Friday of July 2023. Our review of the dollar performance has seen the greenback hit record highs with the impressive job numbers and attractiveness caused by the rate increases. Thus, we expect the dollar to continue strengthening with our expectations of the Federal Reserve to raise its benchmark rate by a quarter of a percentage point (25bps) as Chair Jerome Powell continues to signal that an end-to-pause rate hike remains far from over, at least in our belief, the path ahead remains to be seen in how long the apex bank would maintain this monetary campaign regime.







Emerging Markets Update


Executive Summary


  • The tech investment landscape is undergoing a dramatic shift as India surge to remarkable heights, surpassing its Chinese counterparts. Giants like Paytm, Zomato, and Policybazaar are witnessing extraordinary gains, while once-mighty Chinese tech behemoths like Alibaba and Meituan face significant declines. This outperformance of Indian stocks reflects a broader trend of global fund managers seeking investment opportunities beyond China. Despite their smaller market capitalization, Indian companies are attracting investors due to the country's growth potential and positive relations with Western nations. Chinese growth stocks, on the other hand, are grappling with geopolitical tensions and regulatory risks, lagging behind the global tech boom. As of June 26th, 2023, Chinese tech companies have experienced mixed performance, with Alibaba and Meituan witnessing declines while Tencent sees modest gains. In stark contrast, Indian tech companies, including Paytm, Zomato, and Policybazaar, have witnessed exceptional surges in their share prices. We believe that the decline in Chinese stocks presents an opportunity for investors, as the valuations of these companies become more attractive.


  • China is undergoing a substantial shift in its direct investment landscape, signalling a potential long-term transformation. The country, which has traditionally been a recipient of net inflows, is now witnessing a decline in foreign direct investment (FDI). In 2022, FDI in China dropped to $180 billion from the previous year's $344 billion, reflecting changing investor sentiment and a potential impact on China's ability to attract foreign capital. As a result, investment opportunities may decrease, and economic growth could slow down. On the other hand, Chinese companies are actively increasing their investments abroad, aiming to access developed markets and expand their global market share. This strategic shift positions Chinese companies as formidable global competitors, potentially challenging foreign companies in their home markets. To adapt to these changes, we expect China to adjust its investment policies, actively attracting foreign investors, and supporting the expansion of domestic companies globally.



Markets Summary


Tencent, the Chinese Social Media and gaming giant launched its industry-oriented Large Language Model (LLM) which made it join the Chat-GPT frenzy. With relevant investment in Artificial Intelligence, Tencent Holdings Limited is intending to rival Alibaba while its 2023 Second Quarter is estimated at +3.75%. The Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd offers Investors an excellent entry point as it had established itself as the go-to company for chips. However, the disheartening experience after a Cyber security attack lead to the leakage of vendors’ company’s data leading to a lower contribution MTD in June. It is important to mention the uncertainty and volatility surrounding the company due to the reduction in Foreign Direct Investment and Foreign Portfolio Investment since the first quarter of 2023.


Performance Analysis:






India's Tech Stocks Surge While China's Decline: Opportunities Arise in Changing Landscape


A shift is reshaping the tech investment landscape! In a breath-taking twist of fate, India's tech stocks are soaring to unprecedented heights, leaving their Chinese counterparts in the dust. As giants like Paytm, Zomato, and Policybazaar blaze a trail of success with jaw-dropping gains, the once-mighty Chinese tech behemoths, such as Alibaba and Meituan, are grappling with significant declines.


India's consumer technology stocks have experienced significant growth this year, outperforming their counterparts in China and further widening the gap between the two major emerging equity markets. An index comprising India's top five Internet stocks, including One 97 Communications Ltd. (parent company of Paytm) and Zomato Ltd., has surged more than 20% in 2023. This impressive performance can be attributed to the company’s focus on profitability and the thriving Indian economy. In contrast, China's tech giants have struggled, with their share prices remaining below the levels seen in January.


The outperformance of Indian stocks reflects a broader trend of global fund managers seeking investment opportunities beyond China. Despite being smaller in terms of market capitalization and revenue, Indian companies are attracting investors due to the country's growth potential and favourable relations with Western nations. This stands in contrast to Chinese growth stocks, which face challenges amid geopolitical tensions and regulatory risks, causing them to lag behind the global tech boom.




According to Rajat Agarwal, an Asia equity strategist at Societe Generale SA, investors are increasingly turning to India due to its promising consumption narrative in Asia. The Indian market still has ample room for growth in the digital technology sector, making it an attractive long-term prospect. As of June 26th, 2023, China's prominent tech companies Alibaba and Meituan have experienced a decline of 3.5% and 29% year-to-date, respectively. On the other hand, Tencent has seen a modest gain of 4.9% year-to-date. In stark contrast, India's tech companies, including Paytm, Zomato, and Policybazaar, have witnessed remarkable surges of 58%, 26%, and 56% year-to-date, respectively. This notable decline in Chinese stocks, however, presents an opportunity for some investors as the valuations of these companies have become attractive.


Outlook


In the case of China, the Chinese internet sector remains undervalued and there is a prevailing optimism that a much-needed revival is on the horizon, primarily based on speculations that the government will implement fresh stimulus measures. Adding to this positive outlook is a series of sales data that has exceeded expectations, further bolstering confidence in a potential upturn. However, the overvaluation of India’s tech stocks has been a cause for concern since their debut. While we believe India offers a promising outlook, investors should be aware of possible downgrading due to regulatory risk.



China's Direct Investment Landscape Undergoes a Remarkable Transformation


China is witnessing a significant shift in its direct investment landscape, marking a potential long-term transformation. For decades, the country had been a recipient of net inflows, but according to a report by Goldman Sachs Group Inc., there are indications of a notable decline. In 2022, foreign direct investment in China plummeted to $180 billion, a significant drop from the $344 billion recorded in the previous year. This trend aligns with anecdotal reports suggesting that multinational companies are diverting their attention to other emerging markets. In contrast, Chinese companies are proactively increasing their investments abroad, driven by a desire for enhanced access to developed markets.


Outward FDI increased in Q1 after reopening while inward FDI did not:



What does this mean?


This carries significant implications for China's direct investment landscape. The decline in foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows signifies a potential shift in investor sentiment and approach, potentially impacting China's ability to attract and retain foreign capital. This, in turn, could result in reduced investment opportunities and potentially slower economic growth for the country. Furthermore, the increasing focus of Chinese companies on investing abroad reveals a deliberate strategic maneuver to access developed markets and gain a larger global market share. This strategic shift may position Chinese companies as formidable global competitors, potentially posing challenges to foreign companies in their respective home markets. Consequently, these developments underline the importance for China to adapt its investment policies, actively attract foreign investors, and simultaneously support the expansion of its domestic companies on the global stage. On a separate note, the continuous rise in imports from Russia highlights a crucial source of funding for Russia.



We believe that if these trends persist, it suggests that China's foreign direct investment (FDI) may shift from being a recipient of net inflows over the past two decades to becoming a net outflow in the years to come, as stated by Goldman economists led by Hui Shan. The Goldman team forecasts that inward FDI will remain steady at $180 billion this year, while outward FDI is expected to increase to an equal amount, resulting in net-zero flows.



*Disclaimer:

The commentary you find on this page is for information only; it is not intended as research or a recommendation suitable to your individual circumstance. Please seek financial advice from a professional before acting on investment decisions.


As is the very nature of investing, there are inherent risks, and the value of your investments will both rise and fall over time. Please do not assume that past performance will repeat itself and you must be comfortable in the knowledge that you may receive less than you originally invested.

Comments


Commenting has been turned off.
bottom of page