Fund Return 2022-2023

Fund return to 30 April 2023

Fund

Performance

 

1 month

Scheme Year to Date

1 Year

 

 

 

CERS Multi Asset Fund

0.4%

-1.2%

-2.0%

CERS Bond Fund

-0.3%

-13.3%

-17.6%

CERS Cash Fund

 0.2%

0.4%

0.3%

CERS Equity Fund

0.2%

-1.6%

-2.5%

CERS Property Fund

 0.0%

-3.4%

-3.9 %

CERS Alternative Asset Fund

1.2%

-0.1%

-0.6%


Investment Commentary

Provided by Mercer - CERS Investment Adviser

Market Developments

In April, risk asset returns in developed markets were mostly positive, while defensive assets also provided modest gains. Emerging market equities declined on weakness in Chinese stocks.

News flow during April was fairly quiet until the last week of the month when banking concerns resurfaced, as First Republic Bank came under pressure and was ultimately acquired by JP Morgan. Equity market volatility ended the month at its lowest level since late-2021, despite a brief spike during the last week of the month. Major economies remained resilient, driven largely by service activity. US GDP for Q1 rose at a 1.1% annualized rate, below expectations. Consumer confidence remained on the rise and labor markets remained tight, in spite of high profile layoffs in the US.

Headline inflation continued to decline in major economies, reaching 5% in the US, which is its lowest level since mid-2021. In the UK, inflation fell by less than expected and remained above 10%, the highest rate in major developed economies. Monetary policy remained tight but none of the major central banks made policy decisions in April. The People’s Bank of China and Reserve Bank of Australia left key lending rates unchanged. For the Bank of Australia, this was the first pause in their hiking cycle since the spring of 2022.

There was plenty of geopolitical news flow. Russia and Ukraine appear to be gearing up for spring offensives, while the relationship between US and China continued to show signs of stress. The US appears headed for a debt ceiling showdown over the near-term. However, none of the geopolitical news had major market-moving impacts. US regional banks remained under pressure as First Republic Bank’s Q1 results were worse than expected with significant deposit outflows during the quarter. Shares plunged during the last week of the month. In the end, First Republic was acquired by JP Morgan following a bidding process over the last weekend of the month. Additionally, recent earnings reports show that banks are adding to loan loss reserves in anticipation of commercial real estate related write-downs. We’re starting to see signs of cutbacks in lending, but so far it does not appear to be a full blown credit crunch.

Equity returns ranged from single digit increases to modest declines, depending on region, market cap and style. Bond returns were generally positive, as yields experienced little change. Credit spreads in the US declined slightly. Inflation expectations in the US, as measured by the 10-year inflation breakeven rate, fell from 2.3% to 2.2%.

US dollar performance was mixed over the quarter, it weakened significantly against Swiss franc, euro and sterling but strengthened materially against Japanese yen and Australian dollar.

Commodities overall declined slightly during the month. Oil prices rose modestly and finished the month at almost $77, supported by OPEC’s announced production cut. Wheat prices on the other hand plummeted in April.

Outlook

Global economic growth has been more resilient than most economists expected. In the US, GDP grew at an annual rate of 2.6% during the fourth quarter, and economic data tended to surprise to the upside during the first quarter. This led the market to price the Fed to stay higher for longer into early March.

However, in March signs of a potential banking crisis began to unfold. Silicon Valley Bank became the first in a string of banks to come under stress. Regulator intervention looks to have contained the crisis for the time being. The causes appear to be poor management at the affected organizations and it appears unlikely to develop into a broader, systemic issue. One potential result could be tighter lending standards, increasing the risk of a recession. It could also reduce the need for the Fed to tighten policy further. While the bond market has priced the potential for one more rate hike, it has priced an easing cycle to begin in the second half of 2023.

Encouragingly, inflationary pressures have maintained their downward momentum. The gradual easing of supply chain issues and weaker demand resulting from tight policy should slow core inflation. One ongoing area of concern for the inflation picture is the continued strength of the labour market, although increases in average hourly earnings appear to be moderating.

A mild recession in the US later in 2023 still appears likely. As long as inflation continues to fall towards the target, we do not expect a mild recession to be especially bearish for equities because it will allow the Fed to ease policy. Easier monetary policy could offset the negative impact of weak earnings for equities. The biggest downside risk we see for balanced portfolios is if inflation remains sticky amid a slowing economy. This could require a far more forceful Fed response than what is currently priced by markets and a deeper recession. This could result in further weakness in stocks and bonds.

Notes

Scheme Year to date performance is the period from 1 June 2022 to the most recent month shown.

  • 1 Year performance is the cumulative performance of the last 12 months to the most recent month shown.
  • Multi Asset Fund performance assumes no lifestyling.
  • Performance shown is net of annual management charge.
  • The investment choices offered by the Trustee will be regularly reviewed and may be varied from time to time.

Before you choose a fund we recommend that you speak to a financial adviser. The CERS Trustee preferred financial adviser is Milestone Advisory DAC. You can contact them or your own financial adviser to assist you to review your investment choices. You can contact Milestone Advisory DAC via the website (www.milestoneadvisory.ie), by post: Linden House, 4 Clonskeagh Square, Clonskeagh Road, Dublin 14, D14 FH90, by email (info@milestoneadvisory.ie), or by phone (01) 406 8020. Milestone Advisory DAC t/a Milestone Advisory is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.

If you require further information please contact the CERS Team at info@cers.ie

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