Your Finance Update - May Summary
29 May 2023
Caution amidst the calm?
An eerie calm has fallen over markets in recent weeks, as the banking stresses of early March fade into the background. Market measures of risk, such as the VIX, have retreated, while global equity markets have rebounded strongly, buoyed by a resurgence in technology stocks.
We remain somewhat cautious. We have seen a rapid shift from record-low interest rates and abundant liquidity to an environment of higher interest rates, central banks shrinking their bloated balance sheets and a general tightening in lending standards. These tighter liquidity conditions will continue to impact the economy and markets over the course of the year.
From a macro perspective, inflation has peaked but is proving sticky. While goods inflation has come down as the covid-era shortages have largely eased, services inflation and rising wage costs are complicating issues. We think central banks may have more work to do to really drive those inflation numbers down. A lengthy period of sub-par growth may be required to tame inflation, meaning a pause is more likely than an outright pivot, barring any further financial instability.
Growth has been surprisingly resilient to date thanks in part to a resilient consumer, tight labour markets, a milder European winter than expected and the China re-opening story. However, our base case remains that growth will slow as the year progresses, as the lagged effect of rising interest rates and cost of living pressures make their way through the economy.
In our view, none of these factors point to a great environment for risk assets despite the more attractive valuations we are seeing. We remain close to benchmark with a slight underweight in global equities while remaining alert to risks and opportunities as they emerge.
Market Developments during April 2023
The S&P/ASX 200 Accumulation Index finished April with a gain of 1.9% after two negative performing months. Softer inflation figures and a pause in the RBA’s rate hikes led to strong gains in the first half of the month, while a slump in commodity prices, particularly iron ore, moderated those gains in the back-half of April. Property was a key contributor (+5.3%), with I.T. (+4.8%) and Industrials (+4.5%) also performing strongly. Materials (-2.6%) was the sole detractor.
Property led all sectors for the month off the back of the RBA’s rate decision, meanwhile, slowing construction activity in China contributed to the declines in Materials stocks. Overall, domestic markets were driven by relief from inflation data and the interest rate pause, while concerns around the U.S. banking system were somewhat tempered. These factors were all conducive to a positive month for the Index.
Global equities started with another positive month despite mounting higher interest rates. Emerging markets underperformed developed market counterparts returning 0.2% (MSCI Emerging Markets Index (AUD)) versus a 3.2% gain according to the MSCI World Ex Australia Index (AUD).
A greater proportion of earnings surprises and decreased investor expectations have buoyed the U.S. markets, coupled with an outlook for disinflation to continue. Over half of companies have now reported, with the S&P 500 Index posting a 1.6% return (in local currency terms) for the month.
UK economic data followed a similar pattern with headline inflation also falling slightly. The FTSE 100 Index was one of the top performers globally having a gain of 3.4% (in local currency terms). This was driven by a resurgence in value stocks leading the UK index charge.
Equities across China saw a decline off the back of concerns on the economic recovery slowing down. This was reflected by the Hang Seng Index and the CSI 300 Index, returning -2.4% and -0.5% respectively (in local currency terms) for the month. Expectations are that China’s central bank will ease policy to support weakening economic data.
In April, the bond market remained range-bound despite concerns over fallout from banking developments in March. US short-term Treasury Bills declined due to uncertainty regarding the debt ceiling with further volatility expected over the next few months.
The Australian 2-year and 10-year government bond yields were relatively unchanged, only moving up 9bps and 4bps respectively. The Bloomberg Ausbond Composite 0+ Yr Index reflected a return of 0.2% for the month. The US 2- and 10- year Government bond yields fell by 2bps and 5bps, respectively. In the United Kingdom, GILT yields rose due to resilient activity data and inflation surprises. The 2 Year Gilt yields rose 34bps and 10 Year Gilt yields rose 22bps. During the month, higher quality fixed income delivered strong performance as spreads remained narrow despite apprehensions about the economic outlook. The Bloomberg Barclays Global Aggregate Index (AUD Hedged) returned 0.4% for the month.
REIT’s (listed property securities)
The S&P/ASX 200 A-REIT Accumulation Index finished +5.3% higher in the month of April as the A-REIT sector rebounded from its negative first quarter. In a global context, G-REITs (as represented by the FTSE EPRA/NAREIT Developed Ex Australia Index (AUD Hedged)) ended April +1.9% higher. The Australian Infrastructure sector (As represented by the S&P/ASX Infrastructure Index) finished +2.3% higher in line with the A-REIT sector.
The Australian residential property market experienced an increase by +0.7% Month on Month (as represented by CoreLogic’s five capital city aggregate). Sydney was the biggest riser alongside Perth (+0.6%) also performing strongly. In contrast, Darwin (-1.2%) was the only city to regress during April.
2023 - 2024 Federal Budget: Highlights
10 May 2023
2023-24 Federal Budget: Highlights
On Tuesday the 9th of May, the Labor Government handed down the 2023-24 federal budget. The main themes of this budget were stated to:
- provide temporary and targeted cost of living relief;
- strengthen Medicare;
- focus on investments and measures that relate to renewable energy, with the goal of making Australia a renewable energy superpower.
The key highlights from the budget include.
- $20,000 instant asset write off – The Government has announced it will temporarily increase the instant asset threshold from $1,000 to $20,000 from 1 July 2023 to 30 June 2024 for small businesses.
- Energy Price Relief – The Government proposes to provide $1.5 billion over two years from 2023/24 to establish the Energy Bill Relief Fund to provide targeted energy bill relief to eligible households and small business customers.
- Medicare levy exemption – From 1 July 2024 eligible lump sum payments will be exempt from the Medicare Levy for low-income taxpayers who satisfy the eligibility requirements.
- Small business energy incentives - Deduction of an additional 20% of the cost of eligible depreciating assets that support the electrification and more efficient use of energy.
- Fringe benefits tax (FBT) - Amendments to the Electric Car Discount.
- The budget now forecasts a surplus of $4.2 billion with a cash deficit of $13.9 billion for 2022/23.
- Inflation is expected to remain at 6% for 2023-24 but is expected to fall to 3.25% in 2023-24 before returning to the target band of 2-3% in 2024-25.
- Unemployment is expected to rise to 4.25% in 2023-24 and then to 4.5% in 2024-25.
For more information on the budget announcements please read below.
- $20,000 instant asset write off – While the temporary full expensing measures will cease from 30 June 2023, the Government has announced it will temporarily increase the instant asset threshold from $1,000 to $20,000 from 1 July 2023 to 30 June 2024 for small businesses with an aggregated turnover of less than $10m. Additionally, the measures preventing small business entities from re-entering the simplified depreciation regime for 5 years if they opt out will continue to be suspended until 30 June 2024.
- Small business energy incentive – Small and medium businesses with an aggregated turnover of less than $50m will be able to deduct an additional 20% of the cost of eligible depreciating assets that support the electrification and more efficient use of energy. Up to $100,000 of total expenditure will be eligible for the Small Business Energy Incentive, with a maximum bonus deduction of $20,000. Eligible assets and upgrades will need to be first used or installed ready for use between 1 July 2023 and 30 June 2024.
- Increase to Road User Charge – The current Road User Charge of 27.2 cents per litre for diesel will increase over 3 years to 32.4 cents per litre by 2025-26, leading to a reduction in fuel tax credit entitlements.
- Build-To-Rent Developments - For eligible new build-to-rent projects where construction commences after 7.30PM AEST on 9 May 2023 the Government proposes to:
- Increase the rate for the capital works tax deduction to 4% per year (ordinarily 2.5%);
- Reduce the final withholding tax rate on eligible fund payments from managed investment trust (MIT) investments from 30% to 15%, to apply from 1 July 2024.
- PAYG and GST instalment uplift factor – The GDP uplift factor will be set at 6% (rather than 12% as would otherwise apply) for instalments with respect to the 2023-24 income year.
- Fringe Benefit Tax (FBT) – amendment to the Electric Car Discount – From 1 July 2025 the Government is proposing to sunset the eligibility of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles from the FBT exemption for eligible electric cars.
- Expanding the general anti-avoidance rule (Part IVA) – From 1 July 2024 the Government proposes to expand the scope of the general anti-avoidance rule in Part IVA so that it can apply to:
- Schemes that reduce the tax paid in Australia by accessing a lower withholding tax rate on income paid to foreign residents; and
- Schemes that achieve an Australian income tax benefit, even where the dominant purpose was to reduce foreign income tax.
- Implementation of a global minimum tax and a domestic minimum tax - The Government proposes to implement key aspects of the Pillar Two of the OECD/G20 Two-Pillar Solution to address the tax challenges arising from digitalisation of the economy. These rules are intended to apply to large multinationals with annual global revenue of EU750 million (approximately AUD$1.2billion). This will include:
- a 15% global minimum tax rate for large multinational enterprises with the Income Inclusion Rule (IIR) applying to income years starting on or after 1 January 2024 and the Undertaxed Profits Rule (UTPR) applying to income years starting on or after 1 January 2025; and
- a 15% domestic minimum tax will apply to income years starting on or after 1 January 2024.
- Reforming the Petroleum Resource Rent Tax - From 1 July 2023, the Government will be capping the deductions to 90% of assessable PRRT income.
- Medicare levy exemption – From 1 July 2024 eligible lump sum payments (such as compensation for underpaid wages) will be exempt from the Medicare Levy for low-income taxpayers who satisfy the eligibility requirements including the requirements for the lump sum payment in arrears tax offset.
- Personal tax rates – There were no announcements in respect to changes in personal tax rates. As such it is expected that the stage 3 tax cuts will commence from 1 July 2024 as previously legislated.
- Increasing concessional tax treatment for carbon abatement and biodiversity stewardship income – The Government has announced that it intends to delay the start date of the biodiversity certification component of the 2022/23 March Budget measures titled Primary Producers – increasing concessional tax treatment for carbon abatement and biodiversity stewardship income from 1 July 2022 to 1 July 2024.
- The Government is proposing to provide an additional $1billion over 4 years from 2023/24 (and $268.1m per year ongoing) to strengthen Australia’s biosecurity system. To assist in funding these initiatives the Government proposes to add a biosecurity protection levy on Australian producers of agricultural, forestry and fishery products from 1 July 2024, set at a rate equivalent to 10 per cent of the 2020–21 industry-led agricultural levies, which is estimated to increase receipts by $153.0 million over 3 years from 2024–25. The levy is intended to recognise the benefits that primary producers derive from Australia’s biosecurity system, including detection, identification and response associated with invasive pests and diseases, maximising trade opportunities, and enhancing access to premium overseas markets.
- Increased taxation on super account balances above $3m – the Government has confirmed its intention to apply an extra 15% tax on total superannuation balances above $3 million from 1 July 2025.
- Payday super – employers will be required to pay their employees' super guarantee at the same time as their salary and wages from 1 July 2026.
- Energy Price Relief – The Government proposes to provide $1.5m over two years from 2023/24 to establish the Energy Bill Relief Fund to provide targeted energy bill relief to eligible households and small business customers, which includes pensioners, Commonwealth Seniors Health Card holders, Family Tax Benefit A and B recipients and small business customers of electricity retailers. It is intended that this plan will provide up to $500 in electricity bill relief for eligible households and up to $650 for eligible small businesses.
- Cyber security - The Government is proposing to provide $101.6m over 5 years from 2022/23 (and $11.8m per year ongoing) to support and uplift cyber security in Australia. This includes $23.4m over 3 years from 2023/24 to the Department of the Treasury for a small business cyber wardens program delivered by the Council of Small Business Organisations Australia, to support small businesses to build in-house capacity to protect against cyber threats.
Please note that the budget measures announced above will only take effect once they become law. To know more about how this budget will affect your financial position, please reach out to your Boyce Advisor.
Your Finance Update- April Summary
20 April 2023
Can we have boring please?
It sounds like a cliché but there is never a dull moment in markets. Not too long ago most people were unaware of what SVB (Silicon Valley Bank) was. Today everyone is an expert with reams of analysis as to where it all went wrong!
It has been a tumultuous month for markets starting with several small/mid-sized banks in the US shutting down and depositors redeeming their money as questions about the viability of these banks gained momentum. This was topped off with one of the cornerstone establishments of Swiss banking, Credit Suisse, being bought out by UBS to avoid a banking collapse and possible contagion across the global banking sector. The story didn’t end there as Credit Suisse AT1 debt holders (equivalent to Australian hybrids) got wiped out with assets being written down to zero while equity holders retained some value. This put the whole notion of the capital structure into question where debt holders are meant to rank above equity holders which created more volatility in markets and forced the European Central Bank and the Bank of England to come out to reassure markets by stating that the traditional capital structure remains true and that the Credit Suisse AT1 debt issue is isolated to Switzerland’s unique banking rules.
For many the current banking melodrama is invoking bad memories of the global financial crisis (GFC) of 2008. It is important to note that the banking sector has significantly de-risked since 2008 notably in terms of Tier 1 capital ratios which have increased substantially since 2008 following the Basel III banking framework which was brought in post the GFC in order to strengthen the banking system. One of the issues with banks such as SVB was a lack of governance and oversight by the US regulator, which contrasts with the Australian banking sector which has largely adopted the Basel III requirements. Another notable difference from the GFC was that central banks reacted quickly to the current crisis, unlike in 2008 where central banks dragged their heels until the banking system was on the verge of breaking.
So, are we out of the woods? It seems that the swift action of central banks has settled markets for now. The broader risk remains contagion and like many significant events in history while they don’t necessarily repeat, they do rhyme. There is no doubt that there are many nervous bankers out there taking a good look at their business models and capital reserves.
From a practical perspective we would expect the cost of debt to rise as a result of the banking issues. There is a view that this would in effect be the equivalent of two rate hikes and that it may trigger central banks to take a more dovish stance in raising rates to fight inflation. To date there is no evidence of this and central bank commentators have tried to delineate between stability of the system and inflation. However, one cannot dismiss the notion that the rapid rise in rates has exposed cracks in the markets with the current banking issues an example of this.
Market Developments During March 2023 included:
The month of March ended with the S&P/ASX 200 Accumulation Index down -0.2%. The primary driver was the uncertainty arising from bank failures in the US and Europe. This, coupled with high, albeit easing, inflation added to investors’ uncertain market sentiment. The Materials sector (+5.9%) rebounded with Communications (+3.4%) also performing strongly while the Property (-6.8%) and Financials ex-Property (-4.9%) sectors were the worst performers. Over the quarter, Consumer Discretionary (+11.4%) was the best performing sector.
Materials led all sectors for the month, reaping the benefits of higher commodity prices. The Property sector sold off following concerns around commercial real estate valuations, which stemmed from investor sentiment around higher interest rates and macroeconomic headwinds. Meanwhile, the collapse of major overseas banks led to selloffs within the Financials ex-Property sector. Overall, investors grappled with the inflation-driven interest rate outlook facing central banks globally and its implications on future economic outlook.
Global equities rallied after a sharp initial decline for the month, led by volatility across the Financial Services sector, notably Silicon Valley Bank and Credit Suisse. This was alleviated with expectations of potential easing in central bank tightening via the US Fed’s dovish outlook commentary for the year. Emerging markets performed similarly to developed market counterparts returning 3.7% (MSCI Emerging Markets Index) and 3.9% (represented by the MSCI World Ex Australia Index) in Australian dollar terms, respectively.
Investor confidence was maintained as relatively positive, with global macro data continuing to the upside. Mixed performance was seen across Asia with China posting fresh economic stimulus geared towards growth, as well as varied reception to the Fed’s dovish comments. This was reflected by the Hang Seng Index and the CSI 300 Index, returning 3.5% and -0.5%, respectively (in local currency terms) for the month. In the US, indications of no further rate rise lead the rebound, with the S&P500 Index posting a monthly return of 3.7%
In Germany, the DAX 30 Index reported a gain of 1.7% for the month (in local currency terms) after posting decreasing manufacturing data indicating further weakness ahead, which was shared by the rest of the continent with the FTSE Eurotop 100 Index reporting similar returns of 1.0% (in local currency terms) for the month.
At the start of March, the RBA raised the cash rate target by 25bps to 3.6%, stating global inflation remains high and is expected to take some time before it returns to target rates, while growth in the Australian economy has slowed and is expected to be below trend. However, uncertainty within the global financial sector was reflected across the Australian 2- and 10-year Government bond yields which fell by 70bps and 56bps, respectively. Australian fixed income performed strongly during the month with the Bloomberg Ausbond Composite 0+ Yr Index returning 3.2%.
Globally, markets were jolted by the financial sector woes in the US and Europe, which significantly impacted financial conditions and bond yields during the month. In Europe, UBS's takeover of Credit Suisse caused turmoil in bond markets, with Swiss authorities allowing Credit Suisse's riskiest bonds to be wiped out, and equity holders receiving a small amount of equity in UBS as part of the transaction. The US 2- and 10- year Government bond yields fell by 80bps and 45bps, respectively. The Fed continued to raise rates for the ninth consecutive time to 4.75%-5%, demonstrating their commitment to ending the inflation problem despite the banking crisis. In the United Kingdom, GILT yields followed the US, as 2- and 10-Year Gilt yields fell 60bps and 22bps, respectively.
REITs (listed property securities)
The S&P/ASX 200 A-REIT Accumulation index continued to fall in March after selling off in February, with the index finishing the month –6.8% lower. Global real estate equities (represented by the FTSE EPRA/NAREIT Developed Ex Australia Index (AUD Hedged)) also regressed, returning -3.6% for the month. Australian infrastructure continued its positive momentum during March, with the S&P/ASX Infrastructure Index TR advancing 0.3% for the month.
The Australian residential property market increased by 0.8% month on month in March represented by Core Logic’s five capital city aggregate. Sydney (+1.4%) and Melbourne (+0.6%) were the best performers whilst Adelaide (-0.1%) was the only city to regress during March.
Your Finance Update- March Summary
22 March 2023
Is this a bear market rally or are we off to the races?
The start of 2023 has been generally positive for markets. While the rally has been a welcome relief from the tumultuous market environment in 2022, the key question is whether the recent rally has legs or whether it is simply a bear market rally with more volatility to follow as we progress into 2023.
The market has been skittish over the past 12 months with any positive news on the inflation front, such as any sign that inflation is moderating, resulting in the market rallying. While the most recent rally has partially been driven by some evidence that we are closer to reaching peak inflation, we have also seen liquidity pumped into the market which has no doubt supported market returns. Central banks have been generally decreasing their balance sheets with key central banks such as the US Federal Reserve moving from a quantitative easing policy to a quantitative tightening policy. This has reduced the overall liquidity that’s supporting markets. However, we have also seen some central banks, notably the Bank of Japan (BoJ) and the People’s Bank of China (PBOC), add liquidity to markets in recent months, which markets have liked. We do not believe that this trend is structural and that the direction of inflation and potential impact on economic growth will be the key driver of markets as we progress throughout 2023.
Our base case remains that the third quarter of 2023 will be ‘d-day’ for markets as the direction which company earnings will take, due to the impact of higher interest rates, will be clearer. The most recent company reporting season suggests that there is evidence of slowing in demand, however this is not consistent across all sectors and companies.
Overall, we believe that market returns may trend sideways for the full year with a possible downturn later in the year. In such an environment being able to pick out the ‘winners’ from the ‘losers’ will be increasingly important as simply riding the broader market to generate returns will be more challenging.
Market Developments during February 2023
February saw the S&P/ASX 200 Accumulation Index finish negatively after its strongest month on record in January. The main driver of the negative performance was the persistently high CPI figures in the US and the evaluation of earnings season in the Australian market. Utilities (+3.4%) and Information Technology (+2.7%) were the top performers, whilst the Materials (-6.6%) and Financials (-3.1%) sectors were the biggest laggards in the month.
The Utilities and Information Technology sectors led all sectors as several companies reported robust earnings or positive corporate actions (i.e., Origin Energy). In contrast, the Materials and Financials sectors were the worst performers as concerns around the global macroeconomic outlook and policy response, coupled with the evaluation of earnings reports resulted in selloffs within these sectors.
Investors continued to grapple with the inflation-driven interest rate outlook facing central banks globally and the implications that this may have on the future economic outlook.
Resilient economic data in February resulted in a rise in bond yields and a decrease in equity markets. With renewed inflation concerns, US equities stumbled with the S&P500 declining 2.4% during the month.
The European Central Bank, Bank of England, and Federal Reserve announced rate hikes at the beginning of the month. The overall message from their accompanying statements was that inflation remains excessively high despite recent declines and that central banks must continue their efforts.
Economic data suggesting a postponed recession prompted investors to adjust their forecasts for the peak in interest rates and future rate cuts, given the potential lengthier route to target inflation.
Despite the typical positive correlation between robust economic data and stock market performance, equity markets had priced in anticipated rate cuts and were more dismayed by the possibility of reduced monetary easing than they were encouraged by the delayed recession.
Across the globe, a rebound of consumer confidence helped the Eurozone stay positive with the FTSE 100 returning 1.8% and the DAX 30 returning 1.6%, while the Hang Seng Index fell 9.9% driven by escalating geopolitical tensions.
In a continued bid to reduce inflation to target levels, the Reserve Bank of Australia has raised the cash rate for a ninth month in a row, with a 25 bps increase announced in February. This brings the current February cash rate to 3.35%. Meeting minutes noted uncertain global outlook, upward surprises on inflation and wages, and the substantial increases in rates so far. The bond market reflected the rate rise with yields rising over the course of the month. Australian 2Yr and 10Yr Govt Bond yields rose by 49 bps and 30bps, respectively, leading to the Bloomberg AusBond Composite 0+ Yr Index to return -1.3% over the month. The Australian CPI inflation over the year to December 2022 was 7.8%.
Globally, fixed income markets were much the same. The US. Federal Reserve announced another 25bps rate rise on February 1, bringing the target cash rate to 4.5%-4.75%. US 2Yr and 10Yr Bond yields rose by 41bps and 69bps respectively. Similarly, U.K. 2Yr and 10Yrs Gilt yields rose by 61bps and 37bps, respectively, following the BoE decision to raise the Bank Rate by 50bps.
REIT’s (listed property securities)
The S&P/ASX 200 A-REIT Accumulation index sold off in February after a strong start to the calendar year in January, with the index finishing the month -0.4% lower. Global real estate equities (represented by the FTSE EPRA/NAREIT Developed Ex Australia Index (AUD Hedged)) also regressed, returning -3.6% for the month. Australian infrastructure performed well during February, with the S&P/ASX Infrastructure Index TR advancing 1.9% for the month.
The Australian residential property market experienced no change (0%) month on month in January represented by Core Logic’s five capital city aggregate. Melbourne (-0.4%) and Brisbane (-0.4%) were the worst performers whilst Sydney (+0.3%) advanced during the month for the first time in twelve months.
Changes announced to superannuation fund balances above $3m
8 March 2023
Changes announced to superannuation fund balances above $3m
Recently, the Australian Government announced the upcoming changes to tax concessions for superannuation balances above $3 million.
What does this mean for you?
There is no current impact for your superannuation fund. This announcement is a proposal only and is required to go through the parliamentary process before it is approved. If approved, the changes are proposed to commence on 1 July 2025 and is limited to those individuals who have more than $3 million in super at the end of a financial year. Therefore, it’s the balance at 30 June 2026 that matters initially. It should be noted that it’s $3 million per person, not per fund. The $3 million will however include all of a member’s super, ie both their pension and accumulation accounts combined.
How will the earnings and tax be calculated?
According to the factsheet released by Treasury, for people subject to the new rules there are three essential elements:
- There will be a new, extra tax (at 15%) on some of their super’s earnings.
- The tax will be levied on the member personally, not their fund.
- They will be allowed to elect to take money out of their fund to pay it.
For those familiar with “Division 293” tax, the last two elements will feel familiar as this is how this additional tax is also managed.
The two key terms in the proposal are those in bold above – just some of the fund’s earnings will be taxed and earnings for this purpose has a special definition. Formulas and examples have been provided outlining how the calculations will work, but will include details such as opening balance, closing balance, contributions and pension payments. At this stage it has been stated that earnings will not only include the income a super fund would normally pay tax on – things like interest, rent, dividends or capital gains on assets it’s actually sold; but also growth in assets that the fund hasn’t yet sold. This is the area that seems most contentious and will require specialist advice on how to manage if affected.
How Boyce can help
At Boyce, we are committed to providing you with the latest information and advice on government legislation and its impact on your financial situation. As stated above, this announcement is a proposal only and is required to go through the parliamentary process before it is approved. As further details emerge we will provide updates via our e-alerts or direct contact.
If you would like more information or if you have any questions relating to this proposed change or your superannuation fund in general, please contact your Boyce accounting team who can connect you with one of our superannuation or financial planning specialists.