The US Federal Reserve remained in tightening mode at its March monetary policy meeting, raising its benchmark interest rate for the sixth time since December 2015.
The US financial sector faced heavy scrutiny in the wake of the global financial crisis of 2008-2009, but the end result was that banks emerged in better shape overall, according to Shawn Lyons, vice president and portfolio manager, Franklin Templeton Fixed Income Group.
The current US equity bull market turned nine years old on March 9, 2018. That’s the second longest run without a correction of 20% on record. It’s natural to wonder if the tide is going to turn.
We see the US economy as maintaining its current path of respectable but not overly robust growth. Underlying fundamentals and economic momentum remain constructive, while we do not foresee an acceleration in growth to a level that would swiftly create inflationary pressures.
Growth and value investing are often seen as competing styles, with one outperforming or underperforming the other during different periods of time and market cycles. While the approaches may differ, Stephen Dover, head of equities at Franklin Templeton Investments, and Norm Boersma, chief investment officer of Templeton Global Equity Group, say growth versus value doesn’t have to be an either-or proposition.
Environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors are being recognized in fixed income investing as value-added indicators of potential economic performance. In the latest edition of “Global Macro Shifts,” the Templeton Global Macro team outlines how it integrates ESG factors into its research process.
While it seems US politicians rarely see eye-to-eye on anything, the fact that America’s aging infrastructure needs attention is one issue that has attracted clear bipartisan agreement. Yet, it’s unclear who is going to foot the bill for the sweeping improvements that seem to be needed.
In the first few months of 2018, some US companies and multinationals have raised their dividends by 10% or more—a higher percentage increase than we’ve seen in a few years.
No outright winner emerged from the Italian general election, but as David Zahn, Franklin Templeton’s head of European Fixed Income, explains, that situation is normal for Italy. He expects a muted response from European bond markets but cautions there may be consequences down the road if the authorities fail to take the need for reform seriously.
The opening months of 2018 have seen volatility return to global financial markets, but we think it is important to stress US economic fundamentals have remained broadly the same. After an unusually long period of calm in many markets, the reappearance of volatility at some point seemed likely, even if the speed of market gyrations has been unsettling for investors.