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.
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.
3 March 2023
Your Annual Statement package has been updated
We are happy to announce that Boyce is currently transitioning to a new Corporate Registry Services program.
Why are we making this change?
The main reason for the change is to improve our services to you. This transition will allow us to be ready for the ASIC’s database upgrade that is in progress as well as offer enhanced collaboration options with you in the future. Please be assured that maintaining your confidential information has been our priority during this transition.
How will this change effect you?
The main change that will impact you will be how you pay your annual statement. Your annual statement package email and payment reminder emails will have a different format and wording.
In addition to paying your ASIC fee the existing way by referring to the ASIC invoice statement, the new format will include a ‘Pay Now’ button for your convenience. An example of this button is below.
The Pay Now button will take you directly to the Australia Post payment gateway and allow you to pay your ASIC invoice via credit card.
Please remember to always check that the ASIC Billpay code when you enter it from the ASIC invoice is confirmed by Australia Post as being ASIC.
You will start to receive the newly formatted emails from email@example.com beginning Wednesday 8th March 2023.
If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact the CRS team on 02 6884 6499 or firstname.lastname@example.org .