Natixis Canada Blog

Commentaries:


U.S. Equities Advance in April on Better-Than-Expected Earnings

Dennis Ruhl, Portfolio Manager, NexGen U.S. Growth Funds

U.S. equity markets advanced modestly in April as better-than-expected corporate earnings were able to offset soft economic releases. Stock prices drifted lower in the first half of the month as expectations for the implementation of President Trump’s ambitious pro-growth agenda continues to fade and declining bond yields reignited investor concerns of tepid nominal growth. As the first-quarter earnings season progressed, U.S. equity markets were able to recover earlier losses as better-than-expected results from the industrial sector in particular caused investors to question whether demand trends are stronger than recent economic releases suggest. Small-cap stocks measured by the Russell 2000 Index slightly outperformed large-cap stocks as represented by the S&P 500 Index, as both indices rose 1.1%* and 1.0%*, respectively.

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Disparity Between Investor Sentiment and Economic Data Remains

Donald Nesbitt & Mikhail Alkhazov, Ziegler Capital Management, Portfolio Managers of NexGen US Dividend Plus Funds

The Trump administration completed its first 100 days in office at the end of April, with stock market returns seemingly giving a nod of approval.  Equity markets appeared to shrug off geopolitical issues as well, sailing relatively smoothly through the turbulence caused by European elections, a U.S. missile attack on Syria and ongoing tensions in North Korea.

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High Yield Credit One of the Leading Asset Classes in Q1 2017

Kenneth M. Buntrock; Lynda Schweitzer; David W. Rolley; Scott M. Service; Co-Managers, Loomis Sayles Global Diversified Corporate Bond Funds

Rising economic confidence among businesses and individuals helped fuel positive market sentiment toward most global risk assets during the quarter. The Federal Reserve (Fed) raised rates in March, a widely anticipated move that acknowledged the strengthening U.S. economy. The Bank of Japan (BOJ), the Bank of England (BOE) and the European Central Bank (ECB) continued to expand their balance sheets, though the ECB will reduce its purchases to €60 billion per month in April. The euro zone avoided a political upset on March 15 when the Dutch elected incumbent Prime Minister Mark Rutte.        

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Equity Market’s Advance in Q1 Fueled by Strong Corporate Earnings, Positive Economic Data and Optimism About the Trump Administration

Paul Stewart; Michael Buckius; Kenneth Toft; Daniel Ashcraft; Co-Managers, Gateway Low Volatility U.S. Equity Fund

The S&P 500® Index gained 6.07%* (in Canadian dollar terms, the return for the quarter was 5.25%) for the first quarter of 2017. The equity market posted positive returns each month of the quarter with the S&P 500® Index returning 1.90%*, 3.97%* and 0.12%* for January, February and March, respectively. The equity market’s advance was steady over the first two months and reached a year-to-date closing high on March 1st. The S&P 500® Index declined 2.16%* from March 1st through March 27th before advancing at month-end. Realized volatility and implied volatility were persistently low throughout the quarter.

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Preferred Shares Rally into Early April, But Finish the Month Slightly Lower

Jeff Herold
Jeff Herold, Portfolio Manager, NexGen Canadian Preferred Share Fund

The Canadian preferred share market initially extended its rally into early April, but prices declined over the balance of the month to finish slightly lower than where they began. In part, the pullback later in the month could have been market fatigue as preferred share prices have risen almost continuously since mid-November. As well, some investors appeared to have been buying rate reset issues in anticipation that rising 5-year Canada bond yields would improve their dividend rates. However, when bond yields hit their lowest level of 2017 in April, that rationale lost support. The decline in bond yields reflected a risk-off shift in investor confidence which impacted preferred shares, as well as common equities. Also, index rebalancing later in the month saw more issues entering the index than being removed. In order to make room for the additions, indexed portfolio managers may have been forced to do more generalized selling of other issues, which led to further weakness in the market. In addition, the issuance of structured notes linked to preferred share ETFs declined, thereby reducing preferred share demand for hedging purposes. The S&P/TSX Preferred Share Total Return index had a flat return of 0% in the month.

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