Developed World Markets as a whole have risen slightly over this past five weeks but it hasn’t felt that good.
For a complete change to the usual pattern, Japanese stocks led the way with a near 10% increase as PM Yoshihide Suga announced his intention to resign. Elsewhere, solid performance from big tech held US markets positive, while UK and European markets slipped. With the exception of tech, most other sectors fell back, notably consumer discretionary, pharmaceutical & healthcare and mining sectors.
The economic background muddied a shade more as US employment data surprising with weaker than expected payroll data and the ‘transitory’ US inflation remaining stubbornly high at 5.3%. US bond yields edged slightly lower while UK and European rates did the opposite. Central banks still appear likely to commence tapering in Q4 but are attempting to come up with different descriptors for the process.
Japanese stocks were led higher by their bigger companies, Keyence Corp, Recruit Holdings and Shin-Etsu all jumped by 20% or more, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial and Sony Group by around 10%. Only the biggest, Toyota Motor Corp, struggled to eke out a 1% gain as the shortage of semi-conductors and the delta variant caused them to scale back production again. Among the US technology stocks, Alphabet, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft and Salesforce were all up by more than 4%, Apple by slightly less as we await their new iPhone and iWatch line-up this evening.
Other than in Japan, the banks all suffered, led down by a 9% fall for HSBC, the insurers generally fared better with US broker Marsh & McLennan a feature with a 5% gain. There was no clear reason for the sell-off in the leading pharmaceuticals other than their recent strong performance: in Europe, Roche Holding, Novartis and Sanofi all fell by more than 5% as did Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer in the US. The consumer discretionary stocks were led down by the motor and luxury goods companies: Volkswagen fell 5%, Ford Motor by a shade more while in Paris, Kering (Gucci, Balenciaga etc.) fell 16% and LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton by 8%, the latter worrying particularly about Chinese demand.
The price of oil picked-up around 5% but oil stocks headed lower with Chevron and Exxon both down by 5%. Similarly, the mining companies all had an uncomfortable period, notably the UK listed names Anglo American, BHP Group and Rio Tinto. But BHP Group has announced a reorganisation including a scrapping of the London listing to concentrate on a primary listing in Australia, a bit of a blow for London, along with a hiving-off of its oil business to Woodside Petroleum. Their (relatively) new Chief Executive, Mike Henry, is beginning to make his mark.