Review of markets over May 2020Contributor Jai Malhi
The rebound in equity markets extended into May. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic continued to dominate markets, with an increasing focus on how countries would begin to relax their lockdown measures and how this would affect the economy. Volatility declined and the more moderate market moves compared to April suggest that investors are being watchful of how the situation develops.
Many states in the US began some level of reopening, though the daily infection rate has only fallen to around 65% of the peak infection rate from mid-April. The S&P 500 climbed to end the month 4.8% higher and is now just 10% below the February peak. The infection rate across the major European economies has fallen significantly, though the infection rate in the UK still remains high relative to its European peers.
Investors appeared to become somewhat more optimistic about the outlook after initial signs of success in human trials of a vaccine against COVID-19. Growth stocks outperformed value stocks while global government bond markets were broadly flat. European and Japanese stock markets, typically cyclical markets, also ended the month higher. Despite the first steps being taken to exit lockdown and some positive news on a potential vaccine, it’s still too early to say with confidence how the public health outlook will evolve.
Exhibit 1: Asset class and style returns
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