January 26, 2021

FINANCIAL MARKETS

  • The fall surge in COVID cases around the world and the resulting expansion of restrictions on business and social activity caused a sell‐off in risk assets in October. However, in early November reports of better than expected effectiveness of two COVID vaccines sparked optimism that the end of the pandemic is in sight (despite daily records for new cases and hospitalizations) which should enable a return to more normal business and social activity which will set‐off a spurt of economic growth as pent‐up demand is filled. The commitment from governments and central banks to fiscal and monetary stimulus also drove asset prices higher.
  • Various equity indices around the world hit new all‐time or multi‐year highs. Investors rotated into more economically sensitive assets such as small‐capitalization (cap) and cyclical stocks leading value indices to outperform growth indices and small‐cap to outperform large‐cap.
  • Longer‐term U.S. Treasury bond yields moved higher on expectations for strong economic growth.
  • Oil prices fell to $36 per barrel in October but rose to near $50 per barrel in December on vaccine optimism.

OVERVIEW OF THE ECONOMY

  • Manufacturing continued to rebound globally. Labor markets cooled with the new COVID related restrictions
    enacted globally. The U.S. housing market continues to soar in both sales and prices.

NOTABLE EVENTS

  • A $900 billion COVID relief bill was signed in the U.S. The Federal Reserve Open Market Committee (FOMC) said it will maintain asset purchases until substantial progress is seen in employment. The European Central Bank (ECB) expanded its bond buying program.
  • The United Kingdom (UK) officially left the European Union (EU) on December 31, four years after the Brexit vote.