An analysis of the economy and
Asset Allocation Update
- We currently recommend our strategic (long-term target) weighting to equities for all models.
- Within the equity allocation, we recommend an allocation of 60% value and 40% growth across both developed and emerging markets, and a 14% allocation to emerging markets (as a percentage of total equity).
- We continue to recommend a tactical overweight to alternative strategies versus our long-term target. Commodities and REITs remain at their long-term target allocations.
- We recommend a modest tactical underweight to fixed income. Within fixed income, we recommend a tactical overweight to US aggregate fixed income, and strategic weightings to international fixed income (hedged), US high yield, and US TIPS. We are awaiting a more favorable entry point for emerging markets debt.
- A number of important US economic indicators are at or near multi-year highs including ISM Manufacturing, ISM Non-Manufacturing, consumer confidence, and equity prices. Trends in a number of employment indicators (U-6 unemployment, initial jobless claims and nonfarm payrolls) have also been positive.
- In July, US consumer spending actually declined, and real disposable personal income growth was the weakest since December. However, the August retail sales report showed solid growth for the month, and the previous two months were revised sharply higher.
- Economic results in the euro area have continued to disappoint as evidenced by the latest data on GDP, PMI and employment. Euro area annual inflation has dropped to 0.3% according to the August flash estimate.
- On September 4, the ECB lowered its main lending rate by 0.10 percentage points and cut a separate rate on bank deposits deeper into negative territory. The central bank also announced it will purchase covered bank bonds and asset-backed securities with further details to be released in October.
- The Conference Board Leading Economic Index for China increased 1.3% in July, and is up 6.4% over the past six months.
- For the month of August, US equities posted very strong results, outperforming non-US developed equities by a wide margin. US small-cap stocks outperformed large and mid-cap stocks during the month.
- Emerging markets stocks continue to rebound this year, performing roughly in-line with developed equity in August and outperforming over the year-to-date period (as of August 31). Relative valuations for emerging markets stocks (vs. developed markets) remain attractive.
- Interest rates remain low, but we believe rising rates would provide a tailwind for high-quality relative performance.
- The current environment continues to pose difficulties for active management within equities.
Fixed Income Highlights
- US high-yield spreads narrowed materially in August, leading to outperformance versus the aggregate US bond market during the period. We continue to expect the asset class to perform relatively well in the near to intermediate term based on the low interest rate environment, low default rate, and investors’ continued appetite for yield.
- Emerging markets debt spreads widened in August but remain well below the historical average.
- Based on our TIPS forecast model, which incorporates breakeven rates and changes in the unemployment rate, US TIPS remain relatively attractive over a one-year horizon.
Diversifying Assets Highlights
- Alternative strategies underperformed global equities and fixed income in August. We expect alternative strategies to provide downside protection in the event of an equity market correction.
- REITs are still reasonably attractive based on their dividend-yield advantage versus Treasuries. A rise in inflation expectations could potentially pressure REITs, but the asset class has historically performed well when US interest rates have trended higher due to higher expected economic growth.
- Commodities posted another negative monthly return in August. The broad index continues to lag equities and fixed income on a year-to-date basis.
The opinions expressed herein are those of the Sterling Advisory Solutions Team, and not those of BB&T Corporation or its executives. The stated opinions are for general information only and are not meant to be predictions or an offer of individual or personalized investment advice. They also are not intended as an offer or solicitation with respect to the purchase or sale of any security. This information and these opinions are subject to change without notice. Any type of investing involves risk and there are no guarantees. Sterling Capital Management LLC does not assume liability for any loss which may result from the reliance by any person upon any such information or opinions.
Investment advisory services are available through Sterling Capital Management LLC, a separate subsidiary of BB&T Corporation. Sterling Capital Management LLC manages customized investment portfolios, provides asset allocation analysis and offers other investment-related services to affluent individuals and businesses. Securities and other investments held in investment management or investment advisory accounts at Sterling Capital Management LLC are not deposits or other obligations of BB&T Corporation, Branch Banking and Trust Company or any affiliate, are not guaranteed by Branch Banking and Trust Company or any other bank, are not insured by the FDIC or any other government agency, and are subject to investment risk, including possible loss of principal invested.
The securities/instruments discussed in this material may not be suitable for all investors. The appropriateness of a particular investment or strategy will depend on an investor’s individual circumstances and objectives.
Asset allocation and diversification do not assure a profit or protect against loss in declining financial markets.
The indexes are unmanaged and are shown for illustrative purposes only. Indexes do not represent the performance of any specific investment. An investor cannot invest directly in an index.
The indexes selected by Sterling Capital Management to measure performance are representative of broad asset classes. Sterling Capital Management retains the right to change representative indexes at any time.