Market Commentary - May
Glenmore Asset Management
Equity markets were mixed in May. In the US, the S&P 500 rose +0.3%, the Nasdaq rebounded sharply +5.8%, whilst in the UK, the FTSE 100 declined by -5.4%. In Australia, the All Ordinaries Accumulation index fell -2.6%, driven by ongoing investor caution around the impact of interest rate hikes by the Reserve Bank of Australia. The technology sector was the top performing sector, as investor sentiment continues to recover after materially underperforming in 2022. Consumer discretionary was the worst performer, with multiple ASX listed stocks flagging consumer spending is weakening due to rising interest rates and cost of living pressures. Gold stocks also underperformed in the month.
Small cap stocks significantly underperformed as investor funds moved to the perceived safety of larger cap stocks. As an example, on the ASX, the Emerging Companies index fell -6.4%, whilst the Small Ordinaries Accumulation index declined -3.3%.
In bond markets, the US 10 year bond yield rose +20bp to close at 3.66%, whilst the Australian 10 year bond rate increased +26bp to 3.60%. Both movements were due to increased inflation expectations. In currency markets, the A$/US$ declined -2% to close at US$0.65. Commodities were broadly weaker in May. Brent crude oil declined -8.6%, copper -6.5%, iron ore -5.0%, whilst gold -1.2%. Thermal coal fell sharply, down -27.3%.
The numerous interest rate hikes implemented by the Reserve Bank over the past 12 months are clearly having an impact on consumer spending, as evidenced by multiple ASX listed retailers announcing profit downgrades in recent weeks. Whilst some components of the CPI basket are declining (eg. Commodities), other parts such as power prices and wages are still rising (eg. Recent 5.75% award wage increase which commences on 1 July). Services inflation in particular, continues to be too high, as businesses across the board increase prices. With regards to interest rates, given inflation is proving more difficult to reduce to the Reserve Bank's targeted band of 2%-3%, it now appears likely that the RBA will need to lift rates 2-3 more times in this cycle.
One theme that continues to impact the fund's relative performance versus benchmark is the underperformance of small/mid cap stocks on the ASX, noting the fund has a strong skew to this part of the market. Whilst this has been negative for the performance of the fund in recent months, we strongly believe this focus will produce some outstanding buying opportunities for longer term focussed investors over the next 6-12 months. The Fund continues to see numerous attractively valued stocks across a wide range of sectors and is well capitalised to take advantage of this current short term investor bearishness.
Funds operated by this manager: