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Latest CIO view across asset classes

United States of America         Europe ex-UK         United Kingdom (UK)         Non-Asia Emerging Markets         Japan          Asia ex-Japan         

Equity – at a glance
16 DECEMBER 2022

  • We enter 2023 Underweight equities given our central scenario of a recession in the US and Europe. Central bank tightening and weakening consumption patterns are likely to pose downside risks to earnings estimates on a 12-month horizon.
  • We are Overweight Asia ex-Japan, with China’s economic recovery likely to support an improved earnings growth profile. Meanwhile, a potential deceleration in Fed rate hikes and a weaker USD are expected to support fund flows into Emerging Markets in 2023. Within Asia ex-Japan, we are Overweight China equities given easing mobility restrictions and favourable fiscal and monetary policies. However, we have an equal preference for onshore vs offshore equities as we believe the regulatory risks for the internet sector and ADR delisting risks are fading. We are Neutral Indian equities given the trade-off between relatively strong earnings and high valuations. Within Indian equities, we prefer large cap over small and mid-cap.
  • We are Neutral US equities and remain cautious due to relatively expensive valuations and the risk of further earnings downgrades. Elsewhere, we are Neutral UK equities amid heightened recession worries, and Underweight Japan equities as we expect a stronger JPY to hurt corporate earnings. We are Neutral Euro area equities that continue to suffer from the impact of the Russia-Ukraine war, but the significant valuation discount is pricing in much of the bad news, in our view.
US equities – Core holding
16 DECEMBER 2022

The bullish case:

+ Recession risk largely priced in

+ Potential Fed pivot

+ Healthy labour market conditions

The bearish case:

–Fed’s potential overtightening

–Weakening consumption and wealth effect

– Strong USD hinders earnings

Europe ex-UK equities – Core holding
16 DECEMBER 2022

The bullish case:

+ Resilient margins

+ Extreme valuation discount

+ Gas reserves for the winter

The bearish case:

– Heightened recession risk

– Geopolitical risks from Russia-Ukraine war

– Still-elevated energy costs

UK equities – Core holding
16 DECEMBER 2022

The bullish case:

+ Weaker GBP to support foreign revenue

+ High dividend yields and valuation discount

+ Heavily weighted towards Value equities

The bearish case:

– Record inflation levels

– Tightening monetary conditions

– Geopolitical risks from Russia-Ukraine war

Japan Equities – Less Preferred holding
16 DECEMBER 2022

The bullish case:

+ Japan and China reopening to support earnings growth

+ Attractive valuations

The bearish case:

– Strengthening JPY to hurt company earnings

– Consumption momentum remains weak

– Prolonged supply chain issues

– Risk of BoJ policy tightening if inflation rises

Asia ex-Japan equities – Preferred holding
16 DECEMBER 2022

The bullish case:

+ China’s fiscal and monetary stimulus

+ Relaxing mobility restrictions in China

+ High projected EPS growth in 2023

The bearish case:

– Chinese ADR delisting risk

– Unexpected regulatory reforms in China

– Supply chain disruption hurting production

DM IG Government bonds         DM IG Corporate bonds         DM HY Corporate bonds        EM USD Government bonds         EM LCY Government bonds         Asia USD bonds       

Bonds – at a glance
16 DECEMBER 2022
  • We are Overweight bonds, including both government and high-quality corporate debt, over equities, as the developed world is expected to head into recession in 2023. The 10-year US government bond yield is expected to rise towards 3.75%-4.0% in Q1 23 as the Fed seeks to maintain tight financial conditions for now. However, the 10-year US yield is likely to edge lower towards 3.25% by end-2023 as a likely decline in US inflation and rising recession risks lead the Fed to pause rate hikes in H1 23 and start cutting rates by end-2023.
  • Within a larger-than-usual allocation to bonds, Asian USD bonds are Overweight given their high aggregate credit quality, relatively stronger regional economic outlook and growing policy support in China. Developed Markets (DM) Investment Grade (IG) government and corporate bonds are Neutral within bond allocations. DM High Yield (HY) corporate bonds, though, are Underweight as we believe the impact from a recession is not fully priced in. Our expectation of a weaker USD, but still-tight Fed policy, leads us to hold a Neutral stance on both EM local currency and EM USD government bonds.
Developed Market Investment Grade government bonds – Core holding
16 DECEMBER 2022

The bullish case:

+ Flight-to-safety demand amid rising recession risk

+ Peak inflation and Fed pivot

The bearish case:

– Risk of tighter monetary policies against a strong economic growth backdrop

– Unfavourable demand-supply balance

Developed Market Investment Grade corporate bonds – Core holding
16 DECEMBER 2022

The bullish case:

+ Strong corporate credit quality

+ Attractive yield of over 5%

+ Long duration positive when rates are cut

The bearish case:

– Earnings growth slowdown

– Ratings downgrade amid weakening credit fundamentals

Developed Market High Yield corporate bonds – Less preferred holding
16 DECEMBER 2022

The bullish case:

+ Strong corporate credit fundamentals

+ Highest absolute yield on offer among various bond asset classes

The bearish case:

– Ratings downgrade amid weakening credit

– Surge in default risks as the economy heads into recession

Emerging Market USD government bonds – Core holding
16 DECEMBER 2022

The bullish case:

+ Long duration benefitting from a peak in interest rates

+ Attractive absolute yield on offer

The bearish case:

– Challenging EM economic outlook

– Commodity price disinflation

– Interest rate differentials with DM

Emerging Market Local currency government bonds – Core holding
16 DECEMBER 2022

The bullish case:

+ Supportive EM currencies given our weak 12m USD outlook

+ Central bank policy flexibility

The bearish case:

– Challenging EM economic outlook

– Commodity price disinflation

– Interest rate differentials vs DM

Asia USD bonds – Preferred holding
16 DECEMBER 2022

The bullish case:

+ Strong aggregate credit quality (BBB+)

+ Signs of policy easing in China

+ Attractive yield relative to onshore markets

The bearish case:

– Likelihood of elevated defaults in China

– Lower yields vs other EM bonds

Crude Oil                    Gold                   

Commodities – at a glance
16 DECEMBER 2022
  • Gold shines again. We are Neutral on gold vs other major asset classes as we view it as a portfolio ballast with a 12-month forecast of USD 1,890. We expect gold to rise over the next 12 months as the Fed rate-hiking cycle pauses and the focus shifts to rate cuts amid rising recession risks. Gold has been a superior hedge in the past recessions, and it arguably retains its safe-haven properties during times of crisis. A weaker USD and central bank and physical demand are other key drivers behind our constructive view. On a three-month horizon, though, the precious metal is expected to initially remain under pressure as inflation slows ahead of nominal interest rates, keeping real (net of inflation) yields supported in Q1 23.
  • Oil prices are likely to stabilise. Over a 12-month horizon, we expect WTI oil to remain around USD 75/bbl as weaker oil demand from a slowing global economy is balanced by tighter-than-usual supply and upside demand risk from rising Chinese mobility. We expect OPEC+ to intervene to keep oil well-supported at its breakeven price – estimated to be c.USD 70/bbl – should global demand weaken. Over the next three months, though, prices are likely to initially rise. The EU embargo on Russian oil, Russia’s yet-unknown response and low global oil inventories combined with low producer elasticity add risks to supply. A mobility-led growth rebound in China could also front-load a rebound in its energy demand.
Crude Oil
16 DECEMBER 2022

The bullish case:

+ Inventory levels remain low; limited spare capacity

+ Supply constraints from EU embargo on Russian crude

+ OPEC+ supply cuts

+ Resurgent Chinese demand

The bearish case:

– Rising rates and any resulting recession could slow global demand

– Greater redirection of Russian oil flows to China/India

– US-Iran deal bringing back Iran oil supply

– Easing supply tightness

16 DECEMBER 2022

The bullish case:

+ A peak in Fed rates as growth weakens

+ Escalation of geopolitical tensions

+ Gold usually outperforms during recessions

+ Reserve diversification is a key theme for central banks

+ Strong central bank and physical demand

The bearish case:

– Rising real yields increase opportunity costs of holding gold

– Extended USD strength

– Geopolitical risk premium in gold tends to be short-lived

Alternatives at a glance
16 DECEMBER 2022
  • We believe the unusual rise in stock-bond correlations in 2022 is unlikely to last into 2023. Nevertheless, the experience means the demand for relatively uncorrelated assets, or less volatile substitutes for traditional asset classes, is likely to sustain.
  • This is where a neutral allocation to alternative strategies can help. Liquid alternative strategies are one potential route. While many of these tend to be relatively less volatile ‘substitutes’ for equities, ‘diversifiers’ such as macro/CTA strategies tend to outperform during recessionary and/or trending markets. Private asset classes can be another route. Private credit strategies, for example, fit well into our preference for income and are a preferred substitute for riskier bonds (such as leveraged loans or High Yield bonds).
Multi-Asset – at a glance
16 DECEMBER 2022
  • Income assets are one of the key investment opportunities in 2023, in our view. Our model, diversified multi-asset income (MAI) strategy, is offering a yield of over 6%, levels last seen before the Global Financial Crisis. We believe investors have a window to lock in an attractive yield given the Fed is likely to approach the peak of its hiking cycle in H1 23 and potentially cut thereafter. 
  • Within our MAI allocation, we have a larger-than-benchmark tilt towards fixed income assets. While the 10-year US government bond yield has declined recently, yields of other income assets are still trading near the top end of their historical range. High-quality fixed income assets have tended to trough around the last Fed hike, as markets start to price an economic slowdown and eventual rate cut. We expect the US economy to enter a mild recession in 2023. Today’s higher starting yields and relatively wide credit spreads mean the chances of earning returns in excess of the average yields across most bond assets is much higher than a year ago. We add a tilt towards Developed Market Investment Grade and Emerging Market bonds within the fixed income sleeve and have closed our relative preference for leverage loans vs High Yield bonds.
  • We have a smaller-than-usual allocation to high dividend equities, given our expectations of a recession in the US and Europe in 2023. Having said that, we are acutely mindful of the risk of under-allocating to equities over longer horizons. High dividend equities remain an important source of income and growth within our MAI allocation and they usually outperform global equities during such recessionary periods. A still-reasonable allocation to high dividend equities also helps mitigate the long-term risk of losing value in inflation-adjusted terms if one allocates solely to cash and fixed income.

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