The coronavirus outbreak represents a significant shock to both supply and demand in China and is likely to have repercussions for both Chinese and global economic growth.
Portfolio Managers Matthew McLennan, Kimball Brooker
Global equity markets ended a robust 2019 on a high note, with a strong fourth quarter rally adding to already impressive yearto- date gains. Performance over the last several months of the year was driven mainly by sectors of the market, such as technology and health care, thought to have good long-term growth prospects.
In fixed income markets, solid fourth quarter returns capped off what was a remarkable year across the complex. As in the equity markets, the credit rally appeared buoyed by central banks’ return to highly accommodative policy, which repressed volatility and supported bond returns across the quality spectrum.
With a new year upon us, we remain in uncharted equity and economic waters. In the US, the current bull run has been the longest on record, as has the ongoing economic expansion. With unprecedented levels of global monetary stimulus, however, questions remain as to how much of the equity market’s rally over the past 10-plus years should be ascribed to central bank liquidity.
If we had to describe the fixed income market in 2019 with a single word, we would choose “complacent.” While leverage remained elevated among both non-investment grade and investment grade issuers, particularly given the age of the credit cycle, yield spreads were on the tighter end of the spectrum and absolute yields ended the year below where they had been in 2007.
The gold price continued to climb in the third quarter of 2019, reaching a six-year high of $1,552/oz. in early September, as macroeconomic and geopolitical uncertainty continued to support the appeal of perceived safe-haven assets like gold.
Renewed easing by central banks worldwide was the defining move in financial markets during 2019, instigating a robust rally that left a number of major equity indexes at or near all-time highs by
Watch Matt McLennan alongside Evercore ISI's Ed Hyman as they discuss what has changed in financial markets over the last year and what that means for the US and Global economies.
Equity markets have overcome their end-cycle anxiety to deliver impressive gains thus far in 2019. Given the magnitude of returns across stock markets globally, it is perhaps not surprising to see widespread reports of FOMO among investors.
"If you're a long-term investor, it matters less what's happening to the markets as a whole, and matters more what you can find bottom up. At the end of the day, we're not betting on being all into markets. We're selectively buying into markets around the world and I think that's the key distinction."
The use of gold as a potential hedge against extreme market outcomes has long been a key tenet of First Eagle’s investment philosophy.
At First Eagle, we’ve long held that the United States does not have a monopoly on good companies. While we think most market participants would agree with this sentiment, asset allocation data suggest US investors in general continue to be significantly underexposed to international equities relative to their share of the global opportunity set.
“One of the things that's important that we do a little bit differently at First Eagle, is we don't define value just in purely statistical terms."
Though the current business cycle—the longest in US history—is showing signs of age, the potential timing of and impetus for its end remain uncertain.