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March, 2021

March, the anniversary of local and global lockdown measures, ended the strangest and most uncertain year that many of us have ever experienced. From complete shutdowns in economic activity to restrictions on and tracking of movement, and prohibitions on gatherings and family visits, the recovery from a year ago has indeed been quite impressive, albeit with many panic attacks in between.

FEBRUARY, 2021

Global inflation fears resurfaced in February, playing off against optimism around the US stimulus package and continued vaccine rollouts. Locally, we had the State of the Nation address, the annual National Budget speech, our own vaccine roll-out rollercoaster, and lockdown level adjustments, making it an eventful month.

January, 2021

It was a positive start to the year as local assets delivered strong returns, with local equities posting the best start to a year since 2012. The only exception was local property, taking a breather from the relatively strong recovery over the past few months. Global markets were slightly more mixed, with returns being relatively muted compared to those achieved locally. As the rand depreciated slightly throughout the month, local investors received a currency pickup from their offshore investments, with the average global flexible portfolio returning 3.5%.

December, 2020

December brought a relatively pleasant end to a difficult year in terms of investment performance. All local asset classes added positive returns for the month, with property once again rebounding strongly. Despite positive returns from offshore investments, the average global flexible portfolio was pulled down by the strong rand appreciation over the past few months, leaving the average flexible offshore investment with a negative return for both December and the fourth quarter.

November, 2020

Financial markets delivered on the expectations of much better performance in November relative to prior months. Buoyed by optimism around the development and success of COVID-19 vaccines, progress in the United States (US) elections, as well as further confirmation of a growth rebound, both local and global assets surged in the month. This performance more than offsets the negative to weak months of September and October and continues to build on the positive market trends since the March crash.

October, 2020

It seems that the 2020 whirlwind is showing no signs of easing, as October proved to be another rollercoaster month. Many countries went back into lockdown, United States (US) citizens were getting ready to vote (while the rest of the world held their breath), the United Kingdom (UK) moved closer to a ‘hard Brexit’ as Prime Minister Boris Johnson is yet to conclude a favourable deal, and Europe is facing increasing recession risks.

September, 2020

It was a busy month in terms of economic data and market-moving events. In the US, the Federal Reserve disappointed the market as it failed to announce any additional stimulus measures. The Republicans and Democrats are also still debating the magnitude of their second-round fiscal support package, causing some frustration. Furthermore, Presidential elections are causing volatility, after a heated and very unproductive first presidential debate set a concerning tone for things to come. Rising COVID infections and the so-called second wave have taken hold in many countries, especially across Europe, with some reinstating lockdown restrictions. Fears are also running high in the US, as winter approaches in the Northern Hemisphere, and after the recent reports that the US President and First Lady have both tested positive for the virus.

August, 2020

On the global front, August saw positive performance across most markets on the back of optimism around vaccines, reopening of economies, progress in US/China trade talks, and ongoing liquidity. In the United States (US), the S&P 500 hit record highs again, delivering the fifth month of strong returns. This takes the index back to pre-COVID levels and ends the shortest bear market in history. The performance remains very concentrated, however, with the primary drivers being the large-cap Tech stocks (shown in graph), while there is still a majority portion of stocks on the index in the red. The United Kingdom (FTSE 100), Germany (DAX), Japan (Nikkei), and China (Shanghai) equity markets also posted strong returns in August, however, most of these indices are still down year-to-date.

July, 2020

July delivered a mixed bag of performance as some major markets, such as the United States and China, finally made the switch to positive year-to-date returns, while others (Europe, United Kingdom, and Japan) had another down month. Globally, tech shares have been the primary drivers of equity market performance, with the attribution clearly visible in the divergence of the year-to-date price returns for the diversified S&P 500 Index (1.3%) against the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 Index (24.88%).