Following equity-market weakness to end 2022, early 2023 was marked by optimism and a shift in investor preference back to sectors that underperformed last year.
Stocks have been under pressure since the U.S. Federal Reserve (Fed) responded to the fastest inflation in 40 years with a commitment to end it.
Last year’s movements in financial markets were determined mainly by macroeconomic events and a jump in interest rates after inflation surged. We believe that the focus is likely to shift to eurozone earnings, which have been resilient compared with other regions.
Asian equities were broadly flat in the three months ended February 28, 2023, after financial markets rebounded early in the year amid optimism about the lifting of China’s stringent COVID-19 restrictions and continued strength in the U.S. economy.
A difficult 2022 meant that a rebound in equities was to be expected, especially given that inflation appeared to be easing from a very high level. However, a resurgence of inflation could lead to higher interest rates, slower global growth and a new sell-off.
Economic tailwinds exist from the strong labour market, buoyant consumer spending and, until very recently, a slight easing of financial conditions. China’s reopening and Europe’s resilience in the face of an energy shock have also benefitted the global economy, but investors may have become too optimistic regarding the outlook.