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Equity markets consolidated over the summer months. The prospect of an economic downturn gave rise to uncertainty. Capital market interest rates barely declined, despite perceptible concerns over the development of the economy and lower rates of inflation. In the US, interest rates actually rose significantly. This environment opens up investment opportunities.
US technology stocks have soared in recent weeks. By contrast, equity markets as a whole have trended sideways. The focus now is on the increasingly pronounced economic downturn and its impact on companies. Inflation rates are still too high, central banks remain hawkish.
Our essentially positive expectations with regard to the first six months of 2023 were borne out. Mixed investment portfolios clawed back some of the losses of the previous year, with investors favouring equities, primarily European and US technology stocks.
The consequences of the rapid rise in interest rates have become all too apparent over the last few weeks. In Switzerland, turbulence in the banking sector triggered the downfall of Credit Suisse. Measures taken by central banks and government brought the situation under control, and the storm abated. The economic slowdown continues to gather pace, but companies are performing well. Time to adjust the compass.
Optimism proved the dominant emotion in the markets during the first few weeks of the 2023 investment year. The threats posed by inflation and risks of a recession disappeared almost entirely from the perception of investors. But a considerable amount of the ground gained was then conceded in February.
The 2022 investment year was truly challenging for investors. Rising interest rates and falling equity prices dominated large parts of an extraordinarily difficult year. Developments around the world were shaped by high inflation – a knock-on effect from the pandemic, which was exacerbated further by the war in Ukraine.
The last two months have been characterised by solid company results, a healthy labour market and stable consumer spending. Equity markets have recovered. And now US inflation data for October has supplied a further dose of good news.