Jump to Main Content

Monthly Market Insights: May


Data and opinions as of April 30, 2021


Stocks continue to rally on strong economic news while bonds consolidate

Global stock markets continued to rally in April on positive economic news and in the face of rising fears of a new wave of COIVD-19 infections. The vaccine distribution has been encouraging and it appears it will be effective in stopping the virus once everyone has access. In the U.S., individuals over 65 have been prioritized for vaccinations, and in turn their case counts and hospital admissions have been significantly lower than the rest of the population.

Despite higher commodity prices and strong inflation data, global bond markets consolidated last month. Bond yields held steady as incoming economic data merely confirmed the economic rebound, implying the bar for inflation surprises is set very high. Going forward it will be important to watch whether supply constraints or increased demand are driving inflation readings higher.


The NEI perspective

Supply constraints driving inflation. Incoming inflation data and rising commodity prices reflect a rebounding global economy, leading to higher input prices mainly driven by supply constraints.

 

Cases surging in India. The surge of COVID-19 in India has grown to crisis proportions, with cases now exceeding 350,000 per day and record deaths. The country’s economic recovery is in jeopardy, though equities were flat over the past month.

 

Now that stimulus has passed, taxes are being planned. Biden’s first 100 days have delivered the strongest post-election U.S. equity returns in at least 75 years on the back of record stimulus. Naturally, the focus is turning to how all of it will be paid for.

 

From NEI’s Monthly Market Monitor for May 2021. Click here to get the full report (PDF, 279 KB)


Equity*

% return in C$

Canada monthly equity return is 2.2% and year to date equity return is 10.5%. US monthly equity return is 3.2% and year to date equity return is 7.3%. International markets monthly equity return is 0.8% and year to date equity return is 2.9%. Emerging markets monthly equity return is 0.3% and year to date equity return is 1.2%.

Fixed income and currency**

% return in C$

Canadian investment grade returns were 0.0% monthly, and -4.9% year to date. Global investment grade returns were -0.3% monthly and -2.2% year to date. U.S. high yield returns were 1.1% monthly and 1.9% year to date. US$ vs. C$ returns were -2.1% monthly and -1.4% year to date.

Quantitative easing and the ensuing taper

While the goal of each central bank varies slightly, typically they aim to promote economic and financial stability. The tool they normally use is the adjustment of interest rates. However, last year saw many central banks lower rates to their lower bounds. As COVID-19 started to impact financial markets, the Bank of Canada and the U.S. Federal Reserve lowered rates to zero. With no more room to go lower, central banks turned to quantitative easing to support the market. The Fed and BoC started to buy bonds, increasing the money supply available to promote spending and investment. Central bank balance sheets surged as they tried to stabilize the economy by providing funds and keeping rates low. This move was seen as necessary by many market participants and was instrumental in turning market sentiment.


Bank of Canada balance sheet surges on bond buying***

Monthly comparison of Bank of Canada assets and S&P 500 stock market returns, from December 2019 to April 2021.

As global economies recover from the coronavirus, central banks will need to look at reducing their purchases, or “tapering.” The BoC is the first G7 central bank to start tapering, having made its first hint late last year last year and its first direct move at its latest meeting, tapering purchases to $3B from $4B per week. The move is significant. For comparison, the Fed’s first announcement of tapering in 2013 following the financial crisis spooked markets and caused the “Taper Tantrum.” Investors responded by selling bonds and yields quickly rose. Once again, central banks must face off against markets. Both markets and central banks will have learned from the past and are certainly more prepared this time. There is a delicate balance to maintain, and any tapering must be well communicated beforehand to markets to prevent another tantrum.


 
Meridian logo

Aviso Wealth logo

Legal

*Canada: MSCI Canada; U.S.: MSCI USA; International markets: MSCI EAFE; Emerging markets: MSCI Emerging Markets. Source: Morningstar Direct.

**Canada investment grade: Bloomberg Barclays Canada Aggregate; Global investment grade: Bloomberg Barclays Global Aggregate; U.S. high yield: Bloomberg Barclays U.S. High Yield. Source: Morningstar Direct.

***Source: Bloomberg. Data as of April 30, 2021.

Aviso Wealth Inc. (“Aviso Wealth”) is the parent company of Credential Qtrade Securities Inc(“CQSI”), Credential Asset Management (“CAM”), Qtrade Asset Management (“QAM”) and Northwest & Ethical Investments L.P. (“NEI”). NEI Investments is a registered trademark of NEI. Any use by CQSI, CAM, QAM or NEI of an Aviso Wealth trade name or trademark is made with the consent and/or license of Aviso Wealth. Aviso Wealth is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Aviso Wealth Limited Partnership, which in turn is owned 50% by Desjardins Financial Holdings Inc. and 50% by a limited partnership owned by the five Provincial Credit Union Centrals and the CUMIS Group Limited.

This material is for informational and educational purposes and it is not intended to provide specific advice including, without limitation, investment, financial, tax or similar matters. This document is published by CQSI, CAM and QAM and unless indicated otherwise, all views expressed in this document are those of CQSI, CAM and QAM. The views expressed herein are subject to change without notice as markets change over time. Views expressed regarding a particular industry or market sector should not be considered an indication of trading intent of any funds managed by NEI Investments. Forward-looking statements are not guaranteed of future performance and risks and uncertainties often cause actual results to differ materially from forward-looking information or expectations. Do not place undue reliance on forward-looking information.

The MSCI information may only be used for your internal use, may not be reproduced or re-disseminated in any form and may not be used as a basis for or a component of any financial instruments or products or indices. None of the MSCI information is intended to constitute investment advice or a recommendation to make (or refrain from making) any kind of investment decision and may not be relied on as such. Historical data and analysis should not be taken as an indication or guarantee of any future performance, analysis, forecast or prediction. The MSSCI information is provided on an “as is” basis and the user of this information assumes the entire risk of any use made of this information. MSCI, each of its affiliates and each other person involved in or related to computing, computing or creating any MCI information (collectively, the “MSCI Parties”) expressly disclaims all warranties (including, without limitation, any warranties of originality, accuracy, completeness, timeliness, non-infringement, merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose) with respect to this information. Without limiting any of the foregoing, in no event shall any MSCI Party have any liability for any direct, indirect, special, incidental, punitive, consequential (including, without limitation, lost profits) or any other damages.