6th November 2018

Momentum suggests volatility in markets an 'overdue' correction
Opinion

The current volatility in global equity markets does not signal the end of the remarkable decade-long bull market run, according to Momentum Investment Director Glyn Owen. Mr Owen sounded a note of calm after financial markets suffered another bout of serious jitters, partly driven by concerns about American corporate earnings and the US-China trade conflict.

“The world’s equity markets are in the midst of the second big correction this year, the ‘goldilocks’ environment of 2017 is well and truly gone – but this is a correction not the start of something more sinister,” said Mr Owen, one of the founders of Momentum’s international investment business. “The world enters this more difficult stage of the cycle generally in good shape, and signs of excess are absent. Economic cycles don’t just die of old age and this one has further to run.”

Reflecting on deepening geopolitical uncertainty, Mr Owen said US-China trade tensions and the monetary tightening of the US Federal Reserve are chiefly to blame for recent market volatility, and he warned these factors could ultimately activate a slowdown in global growth.

“There are plenty of headwinds in the headlines to worry investors: the Italian debt mess, the Brexit mess, China’s slowdown as it reins-in excessive debt, the withdrawal of the US from the Iran nuclear deal, triggering a surge in the oil price, geopolitics generally, problems in emerging markets, notably Turkey and Argentina. But the really important ones, which have the potential to make a more meaningful and lasting impact on the cycle, are the US-China trade wars and the monetary tightening of the Federal Reserve. These two factors are the prime cause for the current setback and which in combination could trigger a slowdown in global growth in the next couple of years.”

Despite the turbulent geopolitical landscape, he urged investors to show resilience, separate important “real information from the noise” and not to let irrationality, anxiety and hurry undermine investment decisions. According to Momentum’s analysis, a correction in the markets was “overdue”, particularly in over-heated FAANGs, which was reflected in the sharp fall of tech stocks.

Mr Owen said current market volatility is likely to persist until the end of the year. He warned investors: “This is not a time for complacency and greater resilience is warranted in portfolios. But equally this is not the end of the cycle, sharp setbacks such as the one we are now in provides opportunities to buy into under-valued assets.”