2022 was a challenging year, which saw both bond and equity markets struggle in a dynamic environment engulfed by the war in Ukraine and central banks’ battle against inflation. The final quarter of the year did however provide some relief, with equities (DM Equities +9.9%) and bonds (Global Aggregate +4.6%) catching a late bid. By year-end, most global equity markets recorded losses in 2022. Developed market equities fell -18.1% y/y while emerging market equities declined -20.1% y/y. Global bonds failed to safeguard investors, falling -15.3% y/y in 2022. On a factor basis, Value (-6.5% y/y) outperformed Growth (-29.2% y/y) as rising rates and slowing growth weighed on frothy growth stocks’ valuations.
Over the month, U.S. economic data and Federal Reserve (Fed) announcements provided some clarity on the country’s hazy economic outlook. U.S. inflation slowed for a second consecutive month, with November’s Consumer Price Index (CPI) print declining to 7.1% from 7.7% in October. Core CPI also printed lower at 6.1% vs October’s 6.3%. Despite the “slowdown”, annual inflation remains more than three times the Fed’s 2% target, pointing to broad price increases across the economy.
During the month, the Fed announced a 50-basis point rate hike, taking the benchmark policy rate to the 4.25% – 4.5% range, the highest level in fifteen years. The Fed also highlighted that it would do more to restrain the economy than previously expected, with officials now projecting a terminal policy rate of 5.1% – a jump from September’s forecast of 4.6%. On the market front, all three major indices declined over 2022 – recording their worst year since 2008. The Dow Jones index fared best, declining -8.78% y/y, the S&P 500 sank -19.44% y/y, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq plunged -33.10% y/y.
Following the actions of its American counterpart, the Bank of England (BoE) increased its interest rate by 50 basis points to 3.50% in December. The UK’s November CPI print managed to come in below expectations at 10.7%, after hitting a 41-year high of 11.1% in October. The UK stock market (FTSE 100 +0.91% y/y) managed to outperform its peers this year, due to its high exposure to consumer staples and commodity producers and low exposure to pricey tech companies.
In Europe, the European Central Bank (ECB) raised its interest rate by 50 basis points during the month, taking them to a 2.0% policy rate. However, the bank said it would need to continue increasing rates significantly to tame inflation. In addition, the ECB said it will reduce its balance sheet by EUR15bn per month (on average) from March 2023 until the end of 2Q23.
Despite a rapid rise in cases, China lifted most of its Covid restrictions early December. As a result, China is likely experiencing 1 million Covid infections and 5,000 virus deaths every day, as it grapples with what is expected to be the biggest outbreak the world has ever seen. Analysts are concerned that the surging infections could result in temporary labour shortages and increased supply chain disruptions. In market news, China’s Shanghai Composite Index dropped -1.97% in December, ending the year down -15.13%.
South Africa’s (SA) JSE All Share Index followed its global peers lower in December, dipping -2.38% m/m. However, the flagship index held up better over 2022, finishing the year down -0.9% y/y. Over the month, Financials underperformed, declining -5.31% (2022: +4.91%), while SA Listed Property outperformed other indices, closing up 1.13% in December (2022: +0.49%). Despite 2022 being a year for energy and commodities, Resources ended 2022 down -0.24% y/y. Over the month, the rand strengthened by +1.0% against a weaker U.S. dollar, however, the ZAR ultimately ended the year down -6.8% vs the greenback.
On the economic data front, SA’s headline CPI slowed to 7.4% y/y in November from 7.6% in October. Core inflation remained unchanged on an annual basis in November at 5%. Since July, inflation has been on a downward trajectory, but rates are expected to continue to rise in 2023. However, the pace and scale of the hikes should slow if inflation maintains its current trend. In SA politics, the African National Congress (ANC) held its 55th national party conference during the month, where President Cyril Ramaphosa won re-election for a second five-year term as the party’s leader. Paul Mashatile was elected as deputy president of the party.