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Lonsec Market Commentary – March 2018

Lonsec Market Commentary – March 2018 

The S&P/ASX 200 Accumulation Index fell 3.8% in March, topping off the worst Q1 performance since the GFC despite a mostly positive earnings season in February. Potential inflation is still a concern for investors, and the market is steeling itself for the next rate hike from the RBA, which, when it finally comes, will be the first increase since November 2010.

The MSCI World ex-Australia Index returned -2.3% in both Australian dollar and local currency terms as global equity markets continued to slide through March. While underlying economic data is broadly positive, markets remain concerned about the prospect of inflation as well as the potential for a trade war between the US and China.

The US Fed voted to raise the funds rate in March by 25 basis points to a target range of 1.50–1.75%, but this was not enough to prevent yields from heading down. Australian bonds returned 0.84% over March, with Australian government bonds returning 0.99% and longer-term government bonds (ten years plus) returning 2.60%.

Despite leaving the cash rate on hold at its March meeting, the RBA continues to expect labour markets to tighten globally, and for central banks to get on the front foot by withdrawing stimulus. In its statement, the RBA mentioned the market’s concerns about US trade policy and the contribution it has made to heightened volatility. The expectation is for CPI inflation to be a bit above 2% in 2018, but central banks have already done a great deal of expecting.

Lonsec Market Commentary – March 2018

(Lonsec March 2018, Issue Date: 09-04-2018)

Lonsec Market Commentary – February 2018

Lonsec Market Commentary – February 2018 

The S&P/ASX 200 Accumulation Index rose 0.4% in February, with losses during the start of the month fully regained on a total return basis. The MSCI World ex-Australia Index returned -0.6% in Australian dollar terms and -3.6% in local currency terms as global equity markets were rocked by volatility and a sharp correction early in the month.

Australian bonds returned 0.29% over February, with Australian government bonds returning 0.28% and longer-term government bonds (ten years plus) returning 0.17%. The Australian 10-year yield was flat over February at 2.81%, but jumped to a high of 2.94% early in the month.

The outlook for Australia continues to improve, with unemployment expected to approach 5% over coming years and wages growth to pick up modestly. From a monetary policy perspective, this outlook suggests that while the next move in cash rates is likely to be up, there is little urgency.

The RBA is mindful that wages growth remains low, housing activity appears to be rolling over, and the Australian dollar is still close to 80 US cents, which is probably too high for the Bank’s liking. In its March statement, the RBA had little to say about recent market turmoil, noting only that, “market volatility has increased from the very low levels of last year.”

Lonsec Market Commentary – February 2018

(Lonsec February 2018, Issue Date: 09-03-2018)

LIFE Quarterly – March 2018

LIFE Quarterly – March 2018

In this month’s edition of Prepare for Life, we discuss the risks associated with switching or consolidating super funds. There are benefits to consolidating accounts, but there are important matters that can be overlooked when switching. It can be more complicated than it seems.

Are you thinking of downsizing your home? New legislation was passed in November 2017 that allows you to contribute to your super following the sale of your main residence. We look at how these contributions are treated under taxation and who is eligible.

We cover the benefits and what you should consider if you’re downsizing.

Quarterly Newsletter – December 2017

Lonsec Market Commentary – January 2018

Lonsec Market Commentary – January 2018 

Fixed income markets saw some serious action through January, with yields expanding significantly in response to the market’s reassessment of risk factors and interest rate movements. Australian bonds returned -0.27% over January, with Australian government bonds returning -0.35%, and longer-term government bonds (ten years plus) returning -1.02%.

The RBA’s February monetary policy statement was undeniably more bullish compared to its December release, but nevertheless the board opted to keep the cash rate on hold at 1.50%, with inflation still low but expected to move higher. The Bank’s central forecast for GDP growth is just above 3% over the next two years, supported by monetary policy conditions that remain expansionary, while the benefits of broad-based global growth and increased international trade are flowing through to the local economy.

The S&P/ASX 200 Accumulation Index fell 0.5% in January, pulled down by yield-sensitive utilities and property. The US S&P 500 Index rose 5.6% in US dollar terms, pushing to a new record high of 2690.16 points during the month, before dropping early in February as the market underwent a major correction and volatility spiked.

Lonsec Market Commentary – January 2018

(Lonsec January 2018, Issue Date: 09-02-2018)

Lonsec Market Commentary – December 2017

Lonsec Market Commentary – December 2017 

The S&P/ASX 200 Accumulation Index rose 1.8% in December, with the energy and materials sectors rallying in the final month of 2017. In the US, the S&P 500 fell -1.6% in AUD terms but pushed to record highs through the month in both AUD and USD terms. The Dow Jones Index also rallied through December, breaking through 25,000 points in early January.

While there was no monetary policy meeting of the RBA in January, December’s minutes revealed the board’s continued ambivalence towards domestic conditions. Wages remain stable at a low rate, despite the 3.3% increase in awards and minimum wages in the September quarter.

The RBA has maintained the cash rate at 1.50% for well over a year, and appears content to wait and see how high other central banks go and how quickly. Although the September quarter GDP data showed growth of only
2.8% over the year with consumption spending flat, a range of other releases have provided some grounds for optimism.

Lonsec Market Commentary – December 2017

(Lonsec December 2017, Issue Date: 11-01-2018)

LIFE Quarterly – December 2017

LIFE Quarterly – December 2017

In this month’s edition of Prepare for Life, we look at using super to buy your first home. In its 2017 Federal Budget, the government announced its intention to introduce legislation that would allow first home buyers to access part of their super to purchase a home. The proposal is referred to as the First Home Super Saver (FHSS) scheme.

Contributions that may be withdrawn are limited to a maximum of $15,000 per annum, capped at a total of $30,000 plus associated earnings. This limit is ‘per person’. A couple may, therefore, have access to up to a combined $60,000 plus earnings.Withdrawals under the FHSS scheme cannot be made before 1 July 2018.

Is the FHSS scheme a good thing and are you elligible?

Quarterly Newsletter – December 2017

Lonsec Market Commentary – November 2017

Lonsec Market Commentary – November 2017 

The Australian share market looks set to finish 2017 on a positive note, with the S&P/ASX Accumulation Index gaining 1.64% in November, albeit under-performing global stocks.

In a continuation of October’s trends, the leading sectors were again Information Technology (+4.48%) and Energy (+4.15%), which has recovered from a mid-year slump to resume its rally. Similarly, Telecommunications (-1.60%) was at the bottom of the heap and the only negative sector.

The Australian economy grew at just below its trend growth rate in the September quarter, supported by a boost in consumer spending. While advanced economies including the US, Europe, Canada and the UK have begun the task of tightening policy, monetary conditions remain expansionary.

The RBA has maintained the cash rate at 1.50% for well over a year, and appears content to wait and see how high other banks go and how quickly.

In the meantime, the RBA’s growth forecast of 3.0% over 2018 is realistic, but may be a touch on the optimistic side. While there has been continued improvement in business conditions and the employment situation, low wages growth remains a sticking point.

Lonsec Market Commentary – November 2017

(Lonsec November 2017, Issue Date: 11-12-2017)

Lonsec Market Commentary – October 2017

Lonsec Market Commentary – October 2017 

The Australian market followed the world higher in October, after a disappointing run of negative and flat returns.

At its November meeting the RBA left the cash rate on hold at 1.50%, noting that monetary policy in other advanced economies is becoming less accommodative.

The ASX 200 Accumulation Index returned 4.01%, led by the Information Technology (+8.75%) and Energy (+6.50%) sectors.

Santos boosted Energy sector gains, beating expectations on production, revenue and costs, driven in large part by its Gladstone LNG operations. But it was Blackmores (+35.36%) that topped the leaderboard in October, posting a 28% rise in direct China sales, with the Chinese government having affirmed its commitment to the pilot of cross border e-commerce.

Lonsec Market Commentary – October 2017

(Lonsec October 2017, Issue Date: 10-11-2017)

LIFE Quarterly – September 2017

LIFE Quarterly – September 2017

In this month’s edition of Prepare for Life, we look at some of the key changes to Transition to Retirement (TTR), which apply from 1 July 2017. The general concessional (before-tax) contributions cap has been lowered from $35,000 to $25,000 and the fund earnings on assets financing a Transition to Retirement pension will no longer be exempt from earnings tax. The implication of these changes is very much dependent on your individual objectives, needs and financial goals.

The Great Australian Dream is a belief that, home-ownership can lead to a better life and is an expression of success and security. With Australian housing prices placing pressure on individuals due to affordability, it is important to assess your situation and discover what is an appropriate option as ‘bigger is not always better’.

What is your view of the use of facial analytics to determine ones biological ageing and individualised lifespan for the use by insurance underwriters?

Quarterly Newsletter – September 2017

Lonsec Market Commentary – September 2017

Lonsec Market Commentary – September 2017 

The Australian market had a fifth month of negative or flat growth in September, with the ASX 200 Accumulation Index returning -0.02% as commodity sectors pulled back.

At its October meeting the RBA left the cash rate on hold at 1.50%.

The unemployment rate remained steady at 5.6%. The participation rate remains high in historic terms, moving higher in trend terms throughout 2017 and sitting comfortably above 65%.

‘Globally, the MSCI World Index gained 0.68% in AUD terms, supported by US and European shares’.

Australian consumers still struggling to stay positive. ‘The Westpac Melbourne Institute Index of Consumer Sentiment rose 2.5% from 95.5 in August to 97.9, but pessimists still outnumber optimists’. There are concerns around interest rates, deteriorating housing affordability and rising energy prices these are impacting the level of confidence, offsetting the improved outlook for employment.

Lonsec Market Commentary – September 2017

(Lonsec September 2017, Issue Date: 11-10-2017)