July 2021 near-term market assessment

July 2021

In June, pressure on the “reflation” trade was a key theme with growth outpacing value, yields continuing to decline, and inflation expectations falling. The Fed’s emphasis that they think inflation will be transitory, growth being pulled forward due to a successful vaccination campaign in the US, and growing fears about the Delta variant of COVID-19 all likely contributed to the shift. US equities rose for the month adding to their strong 2021 results, while developed and emerging market equities lagged given continued struggles to contain the virus and a stronger US dollar.

Overall, we remain cautiously optimistic on US equities with further gains possible due to high cash balances on corporate balance sheets that could be supportive of share buybacks, continued policy support, and a relatively successful vaccination program. Concerns related to the new Delta variant and the strong recent run balance the positives and lead to our neutral view. Given the relatively early reopening of the economy in China, and strong equity market results last year, we expect weaker results going forward. This could weigh on emerging markets equity returns given the Chinese equity market’s dominance of the index. Beyond China, struggles with containing COVID-19 in other countries also dampen our view of emerging markets equities. We view developed markets equities favorably, given some progress made in containing the virus and the cyclical sector focus. No particular areas of fixed income remain attractive. We maintain our negative view on cash given low rates and inflation concerns. Although credit spreads remain extremely tight, we moved to neutral from negative on high yield bonds recognizing that issuers generally continue to maintain strong balance sheets in an economic recovery. We also moved to a neutral view on commodities from positive due to the recent strong run and the potential impact on demand if economic conditions related to the virus deteriorate.