For the month of August, growth assets performed well as investor momentum remained strong. Economic data continued to be encouraging with another strong set of US nonfarm payrolls. As the world continues to open up, retail sales for the US, UK and Eurozone are now back at pre-COVID-19 levels, following the worst quarterly GDP declines on record for most countries. Purchasing manager indices remain in expansionary territory. Australian small caps was the strongest performing equity market, returning 7.2% over August whilst overseas hedged investors realised greater relative gains from the continued appreciation of the Australian Dollar.
On 23 July 2020, a ‘mini-Budget’ was delivered by the Treasurer Josh Frydenberg. We provide a summary including the announcements made in relation to the COVID-19 early release of super and more. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the full 2020-21 Federal Budget will be delivered on 6 October 2020.
The month of July generally saw positive returns across asset classes, as growth assets continue to gain. Emerging Markets were the strongest performing market in equities, with the MSCI EM Index (UH) returning 4.6% over the month. On the domestic front, Australian small caps outperformed large caps and overseas hedged investors realised greater gains from the appreciation of the Australian dollar.
Growth assets continued to recover over June, but at a slower and more volatile pace than in May. Markets were encouraged by the gradual reopening across the developed world and by economic activity indicators, such as non-farm payrolls, but the optimism was tempered by evidence of the pandemic regaining pace in the US and some large emerging market countries such as India and Brazil.
Following the strong rebound in risk assets over April, the recovery continued into the month of May. Markets were encouraged by the slowdown in new COVID-19 cases and the gradual relaxation of lockdown restrictions across a number of US states, European countries and the United Kingdom.
The fiscal and monetary stimulus packages implemented by governments and central banks globally have helped markets rebound fairly strongly over the month of April. Central bank interventions and massive asset purchase programs, including high yield bonds and direct lending to companies, helped restore liquidity in the global financial system.
COVID-19 has continued to spread rapidly around the world and was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organisation. This has caused a severe shock to the global economy and financial markets have responded with sharp drops in share prices, a rise in credit spreads and a flight to defensive assets over March.
Coronavirus fears drove losses across equity markets and sparked a flight to defensive assets over February. Global equity markets reached fresh highs in mid February, then sold off sharply alongside other risky assets shortly thereafter. The sell-off in markets stem from investor concerns regarding the spread of COVID-19, with an acceleration in reported cases outside mainland China, specifically in Italy, Iran and South Korea and the ramifications on global economic growth.