Market and Investment Insights

July 2019

GEOPOLITICS & CENTRAL BANKS

North American markets continued higher following last month’s reaction to the Federal Reserve’s softening tone allowing the S&P 500 and S&P/TSX to hit new highs. European markets followed pace until investors became concerned that the new UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, will take a more hardline Brexit approach than his predecessor and would be willing to drop out of the European Union without negotiating a trade agreement. The European Central Bank expressed their concern over weak economic data coming from France and Germany.

We find it interesting how this now factors into the Fed’s decision to cut rates. In the modern interconnected world, the Fed needs to consider how its benchmark rate impacts its trading partners and global currencies. Given the U.S. continues to exhibit a strong economy, one can only assume the “insurance cut” of 0.25% was done, at least partly, in consideration of the externalities (global effects) it produces.

On the other side of the world, tensions rose in Hong Kong as an estimated two million civilians amassed to protest the extradition bill being presented. Chinese authorities are maintaining a close eye on these developments and handling the situation delicately as any missteps could diminish the progress made in the ongoing negotiations with Taiwan, another self-governing territory China has been working to officially unite under its government. This comes at a time where the Chinese economy has been suffering through the imposition of U.S. tariffs amidst the ongoing “trade war”.

Contributors:

  • The largest gain came from iShares Global Agriculture ETF (COW), which rose 3.6% despite ongoing trade tariff and crop production issues.
  • Safety-oriented stocks continue to shine as the iShares U.S. Minimum Volatility ETF rose 1.7%. Further, CCL Global Market Neutral was up 1.3% and our top stock was Dollarama up 6.2%.

Detractors:

  • Manulife/Mawer World Investment was down 1.95% given their high exposure to global markets.
  • EdgePoint Global was down 0.05% a rather insignificant move and reflective of global market weakness.
  • We remain highly confident in both managers.

All performance numbers sourced from Morningstar Direct.