And just like that, another year is gone! After a long wait for the 2019 Rugby World Cup to get started in Japan, the six-week tournament went by in a flash. And now here we are looking forward to the Olympics. I hope 2019 was a rewarding year for you.
When it came to markets, it was one of the best years for risk assets since the Global Financial Crisis with the S&P finishing +30.7%, MSCI Europe +27.1%, MSCI UK (despite Brexit) +16.4%, Japan Topix +18.1%, MSCI Emerging markets +18.4%. Crude oil was +22.7% for the year and Gold +18.3%. This appetite for risk meant that safe haven government bonds were subdued, while US High Yield and Emerging Market bonds returned +14.3% and +12.6% respectively. Bitcoin once again refused to die and posted an impressive return of +95% for the year.
Looking forward to this year “Don’t expect a replay of 2019” seems to be a recurring message, particularly when it comes to equities. Once again Bloomberg have compiled a thorough Wall Street round up for people who have the time:
For those who like to keep it simple, here is a list of key themes to look out for:
- The end of the bull cycle is getting nearer, but it is still not here yet…
- Equity and bond market valuations are significantly higher than they were a year ago.
- Central banks are likely to continue pursuing ultra-loose monetary policy.
- Smart investors remain invested but are staying alert and perhaps reducing risk.
- The recent escalation between the US and Iran highlights the potential for sudden geopolitical shocks.
- There is still potential upside for gold if/when things get rough.
- Don’t let the US election distract you too much. Politics are not necessarily a good indicator of market returns.
- Trade is again likely to dominate headlines and unsettle markets from time to time.
- The Bitcoin halving occurring in May is likely to dominate crypto talk – here’s a detailed and rather bullish post on that for those interested.
At risk of repeating myself year after year, planning and strategy don’t need to be complicated:
- Have a plan! Read this post if you don’t have one.
- Stick to your guns. Don’t let the noise divert you from your commitment to saving and investing. (the Japan market made most of its returns in the last third of 2019. If you weren’t buying in the first two thirds then you missed it)
- Diversify and rebalance – particularly if you are heavily invested in stocks and coming off a good year.
- Max out tax advantaged investments such as NISA.
- Look for Japan stocks that are likely to benefit from the Olympic buzz (see what happened to The Hub stock price around Rugby World Cup time)
- Keep an eye on what the bank of Japan are buying – see post here.
With that I wish you all the best for 2020 and hope you enjoy the Tokyo Olympics!
Disclaimer: This should go without saying, but the information contained in this blog is not investment advice, or an incentive to invest, and should not be considered as such. This is for information only.