In February, equity markets continued to rally after the rebound begun in January (+4.1% in February for the Euro Stoxx TR index).
The most recent composite PMI readings for the Eurozone increased slightly and came in higher than expected; however the German IFO index declined sharply, particularly its industrial component.
The Fed’s shift to a more accommodative stance in January largely reassured investors – some are now only expecting one interest rate hike this year. Despite a few purchases in January, most investors remain largely underexposed to equity markets, which could drive potential market upside.
Most investors remain largely underexposed to equity markets, which could drive potential market upside
Furthermore, hopes of appeasement in the US-China trade tensions also reassured investors, as the US administration confirmed it would delay the implementation of new tariffs on Chinese imports beyond the March 1st deadline. The United States is hoping that China will agree to structural changes, which suggests lengthy negotiations and frequently postponed truces.
The Q4 2018 earnings season is now drawing to a close. Stoxx 600 index companies generally released earnings that were in line with expectations. Earnings surprises – either positive or negative – were few and far between, but led to major price swings (up our down) for the stocks concerned: companies releasing higher than expected sales figures delivered excess returns among the highest on record since the global financial crisis.
As was the case in January, the sectors and stocks that suffered particularly at the end of last year posted the sharpest rebounds in February: technology (+4.7%), basic materials (+5.7%), industrials (+5.3%) consumer services (+5%) and financials (+5.1%). On the other hand, more defensive sectors and stocks underperformed: utilities (-0.3%), telecoms (+0.7%) and healthcare (+1%).
The opinions and estimates constitute our judgment and are subject to change without notice, as well as assertions about trends in the financial markets, which are based on current conditions in these markets. We believe that the information provided in these pages is reliable, but it should not be considered exhaustive. These data, graphics or extracts were calculated or made on the basis of public information we believe to be reliable but which nevertheless have not been subject to independent verification on our part. Past performance is no guide to future returns.