Every silver lining has a cloud

Global equity markets benefited from a conclusion to the American presidential election and a fall in oil prices in November. The month was also marked by the continuing decline of the dollar, which fell to an all-time low against the euro, and the Federal Reserve raising interest rates by 25 basis points – the fourth increase since June 2004.

In 2004 we saw equity markets squeezed by oil price and terrorist concerns, as well as by the weakening of the dollar. As 2005 dawns, we are optimistic regarding equity markets – in particular in Europe, where companies’ earnings have increased by some 30% and yet markets have only partially reflected this improvement. Continued cost-cutting from European companies also gives rise to the opportunity to repay cash to shareholders. Elsewhere, there is concern over the future spending capacity of America, and of course the rate at which the dollar weakens in the future may add pressure to export markets across Europe, as well as making the American market less attractive for British investors.

The Lipper survey of geographical allocations across the major markets in the Global Growth sector shows that First State Global Opportunities was the prominent performer from those funds that contribute to the survey, with a 5.81% gain. The strong performance across some of the Asian markets benefited the fund, which has a significant overweight position in the region: 49.40% against the sector average exposure of 6.90%.

At the other end of the sector, MGM International Equity Growth saw a 0.55% gain. Its 49.80% exposure to North America against the sector average of 33.40% pushed the fund to 183rd position from 187 funds0, the poorest-performing fund overall being Arbuthnot Growth, which fell 0.56% (this fund does not contribute to the Lipper allocation survey). The largest movement in geographical allocation was seen from Aegon Worldwide Tactical, which moved 10.20% from the UK and placed an additional 8.20% of assets into Europe ex UK, resulting in an overweight position in the region. Scottish Life Worldwide also had some large movements, shifting 6.20% into North America, 3.90% of which was taken from Europe ex UK.

The average cash exposure in the sector as of end-November was 2.90%, a slight fall from 3.30% at end-October.