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The economics of optimism

August 9, 2023
clock 7 MIN READ

Global equity markets maintained their upward trajectory in July 2023, bolstered by generally positive economic data, as well as investors’ optimism that the Fed may be able to curb inflation while piloting the economy to a soft landing. Emerging markets outperformed developed markets during the month.

The Pacific ex Japan region was the top performer among developed markets in July, bolstered mainly by strength in Singapore. The Nordic countries lagged the overall market due to weakness in Finland. Africa led the emerging markets during the month, benefiting from strong performance in South Africa and Senegal. The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries–Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates–were the primary laggards among the emerging markets in July, hampered largely by underperformance in Oman.1

As widely expected, the Fed increased the federal-funds rate by 25 basis points (0.25%) to a range of 5.25%-5.50% at its meeting in late July after pausing in its rate-hiking cycle in June. In a statement announcing the increase, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) reiterated its commitment to reduce inflation to its 2% target rate and commented that it would “adjust the stance of monetary policy as appropriate if risks emerge that could impede the attainment of the Committee’s goals.” The FOMC also noted that the members “will take into account a wide range of information, including readings on labor market conditions, inflation pressures and inflation expectations, and financial and international developments.” At a news conference following the release of the rate-hike announcement, Fed Chair Jerome Powell said, “We can afford to be a little patient, as well as resolute, as we let this unfold. We think we’re going to need to hold, certainly, policy at restrictive levels for some time, and we’d be prepared to raise [interest rates] further if we think that’s appropriate.”

1   All equity market performance statements are based on the MSCI All-Country World Index (ACWI).

Important information

This material represents an assessment of the market environment at a specific point in time and is not intended to be a forecast of future events, or a guarantee of future results. This information should not be relied upon by the reader as research or investment advice regarding SEI’s portfolios or any stock in particular, nor should it be construed as a recommendation to purchase or sell a security, including futures contracts.

There are risks involved with investing, including loss of principal. International investments may involve risk of capital loss from unfavorable fluctuation in currency values, from differences in generally accepted accounting principles or from economic or political instability in other nations. Emerging markets involve heightened risks related to the same factors as well as increased volatility and lower trading volume. Narrowly focused investments and smaller companies typically exhibit higher volatility. Bonds and bond funds will decrease in value as interest rates rise.

High-yield bonds involve greater risks of default or downgrade and are more volatile than investment-grade securities, due to the speculative nature of their investments.

Diversification may not protect against market risk. Past performance does not guarantee future results. Index returns are for illustrative purposes only and do not represent actual portfolio performance. Index returns do not reflect any management fees, transaction costs or expenses. One cannot invest directly in an index.

Information provided by SEI Investments Management Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of SEI Investments Company (SEI©).

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