Say this for Morgan Stanley — it is not afraid to buck the trend. With world stocks up more than five percent in the few days that have been April trading and up 24 percent since hitting a low on March 9, the bank has decided bale out. In its latest strategy report, MS says it is moving 5 percent out of stocks to neutral. It likes cash.
Another month and another Reuters asset allocation poll. This time saw investors in United States, Europe and Japan lifting their equity holdings and cutting back slightly on bonds. Fits with what has been happening on global financial markets, where MSCI’s main world stock index is heading for its best month in at least six years.
Just how much have world stocks suffered in the past year or so? Try this. According to the World Federation of Exchanges, the market capitalisation of global stock markets has halved. It was $63 trillion in October 2007. At the end of January this year it was only $31 trillion.
Thomson Reuters proprietary research shows the estimated earnings growth rate for S&P 500 index companies in the first quarter of this year to be minus 31.4 percent. As the chart below shows, all 10 sectors that comprise the index are expecting an earnings decline relative to a year earlier.
All the G7 countries outside the euro zone now have interest rates of 1 percent or less, prompting some grumbling in various financial quarters that the European Central Bank is being particularly stubborn in keeping its rates at 2 percent.