March 2018 Performance
The S&P 500 suffered its first quarterly loss since 2015, as global trade concerns and the potential for heightened regulation of technology companies weighed on investor confidence. The technology sector has been the key driving force in this 9-year equity bull market. However, recent controversy surrounding Facebook’s ability to protect customer data triggered a sell-off in the ‘FAANG’ stocks – an acronym for Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google. Since then, we’ve seen a mid-month rotation towards more defensive sectors such as utilities. In the UK, the FTSE 100 fell -2.42% taking first quarter losses to -8.21%, making it the worst performing major stock market. Our decision to reduce UK equities and underweight US tech stocks contributed positively to performance this month.
In fixed income, the 10-year US Treasury yield fell -12bps to 2.74%. The sharp reversal in direction for bond yields countered earlier expectations for the 10-year note to break above 3% and came despite a 25bps rate rise from the US Federal Reserve. There is now just 47bps separating the 2 and 10-year US Treasury yields – its narrowest level since October 2007. The yield curve also flattened in the UK. The 2-year yield rose 4bps to 0.82% and the 10-year yield fell -15bps to 1.35%. Our curve-flattener trade continues to perform well since initiation in June last year. Notably, global corporate credit spreads widened this month – something we have been watching closely. We pre-emptively reduced our exposure to investment grade and high yield debt in early February.
News that David Davis and Michel Barnier had agreed to a Brexit transition deal helped boost Sterling, as did the growing expectation for a Bank of England rate rise in May. The currency rose 1.85% against the US Dollar and is now up 3.72% since the beginning of the year. The US Dollar index fell -0.71%, down over -2% for the quarter, its fifth straight quarterly decline.
In the commodity markets, Gold rose 0.48% to $1,324 per oz and WTI Oil rose 5.35% to $64.94 per barrel. The portfolios performed well this month versus their respective IA Sector and market composite benchmarks. Going in to the second quarter, we maintain our cautious preference for global equities, yet geopolitical risks remain high and increased volatility is likely to be the new normal.
Tavistock PROFILE 3
Tavistock PROFILE 4 returned -0.83% in March. The Market Composite Benchmark and the IA Mixed Investment 20-60% Share sector returned -0.63% and -1.77% respectively. The profile has a rolling 1-year return of 0.19%.
The value of investments held in the Tavistock PROFILES may fall as well as rise. Past performance should not be seen as an indication of future performance. The rolling 1 year dividend yield is quoted as of 31st March 2018 (applicable to income share class only). The Tavistock PROFILES are a white-labelled offering based on the DFM Portfolio Management Service provided by PB Financial Planning. PB Financial Planning is a trading style of Tavistock Private Client Limited, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. The inception date of the PB Financial Planning DFM Portfolio Management Service is 18/02/08. All Tavistock PROFILE performance data up until 31/12/16 has been provided by PB Financial Planning Limited. As of 01/01/17, all Tavistock PROFILES invest in a blend of the ACUMEN Portfolio range. All performance data thereafter is provided by Tavistock Wealth Limited. Source of data: PB Financial Planning Limited, Tavistock Wealth Limited, Thomson Reuters and Lipper for Investment Management unless otherwise stated. Date of data: 31st March 2018 unless otherwise stated.