Global equities are currently near all-time highs and we are likely to see some weakness emerging. Initially in the Emerging Markets but later in the USA as a change in US monetary policy continues and as US interest rates begin to rise. Volatility is likely to return to world stock markets due to subdued economic growth and the divergent monetary policy stances being taken by global central banks. With slow growth, merger and acquisitions activity are likely to be the main drivers of growth.
Eurozone equities have lagged other stock markets and are likely to show some growth. The specific sectors that might over perform are Insurers and Banks which are likely to benefit from rising yields and an improving economic outlook. Stable dividend payers, particularly in the Energy and Technology sectors look an attractive proposition.
In respect of bonds, as the US Federal Reserve continues to withdraw monetary stimulus, core bond yields are likely to rise. Great uncertainty surrounds the impact such a stimulus withdrawal will have on bond markets because we have never seen action on this scale before. Irish Government bonds look like an attractive proposition as the country enters a beneficial cycle of rising demand and tax revenues coupled with falling unemployment and social welfare spending. The big cloud on the horizon is the ECB bank stress tests later this year which would be bad for Ireland if one of our banks fail the test and more capital is required.
World currencies are likely to be more volatile and it is expected that the Euro will finally weaken and both the US Dollar and Pound Sterling will outperform it. This would provide a stimulus to growth in the Eurozone.
Gold is likely to continue its decline albeit more slowly. It will take the emergence of increased inflation to encourage investors to return to gold as a hedge.
Oil prices are likely to increase slightly with increased production from shale; the removal of Iranian sanctions and increased Libyan production being offset by higher demand due to improving global economic growth.