Global stocks set for correction by year end: Poll

Analysts cite Delta strain of virus, end of stimulus measures as among factors for turbulence

BENGALURU • The blistering rally in global stocks is nearly over, any further gains will be limited and a correction is likely by year end, a Reuters poll of analysts found.

Global stocks have recovered by more than 90 per cent from the troughs hit during the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the MSCI world equity index that tracks shares in 50 countries.

But the rally is struggling to maintain its pace. The spread of the Delta variant of the coronavirus and the United States Federal Reserve's pending plans to taper its asset purchases are likely to leave equity markets exposed to turbulence over the coming months.

"The positive earnings season catalyst now behind us means some of the macro negativity is spilling over into equities," said Mr Emmanuel Cau, head of European equity strategy at Barclays in London. "Medium-term though, resilient economic/earnings growth and excess liquidity are likely to remain the dominant market drivers, in our opinion. This should continue to feed the 'buy the dip' mentality, although investors may stay on a wait-and-see mode for now, given the lack of meaningful correction in the past 12 months."

Last week, world stocks suffered their biggest fall since June but have recovered from nearly all of those losses. Still, nearly two-thirds of analysts who answered an additional question - 66 of 107 - said a correction in global equity markets by the year end was likely. The remaining 41 said unlikely.

"The fundamental situation is still very supportive even if markets have rejoiced and risen with vigour. Nevertheless, the strongest economic momentum is peaking, which leads to a somewhat more uncertain terrain," Mr Tomas Hildebrandt, senior portfolio manager at Evli Bank in Helsinki, said.

"Will the levelling growth be enough for markets?" he asked.

Nearly all of the 17 indexes polled were forecast to retain the double-digit gains made this year, according to the median views of over 250 analysts from Aug 11 to 24.

However, a still-uncertain outcome for US$3.5 trillion (S$4.7 trillion) of proposed fiscal spending in the US and the threat of higher inflation forcing central banks to dial back stimulus measures are likely to dent the risk-on sentiment that has been in play.

"The market is being driven now by huge amounts of government stimulus and low rates. But that can't last forever," Mr Dan Morgan, senior portfolio manager at Synovus Trust in Atlanta, said.

All but two indexes were forecast to trade around current levels or gain less than 4 per cent by the end of this year.

Despite global central banks preparing the ground to end stimulus measures enacted at the height of the pandemic, analysts expected corporate earnings to hold up, underscoring the ongoing recovery in the global economy.

Nearly 90 per cent of analysts - 97 of 110 who answered an additional question - said corporate earnings over the next 12 months will rise. While seven expected them to stay the same, the remaining six said earnings will fall.

If analysts' projections are realised, only Japan's Nikkei index was forecast to outperform this year's expected gains next year.

The benchmark S&P 500 index, which hit another record high on Tuesday, its 50th this year, was forecast to end the year around the same levels and then gain another 5 per cent by end-next year.

Median projections also found a rally in emerging market (EM) equities will peter out by early next year.

"We suspect low yields were a key factor supporting the gains in equity market valuations last year, which boosted EM stock prices," Mr Thomas Mathews, markets economist at Capital Economics in London, said. "We don't expect particularly large gains in EM equities over the next few years, even as their economies recover from the effects of the pandemic."


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 27, 2021, with the headline Global stocks set for correction by year end: Poll. Subscribe