Investors breathed a sigh of relief in July amid rebounding performance across most major asset classes and categories, despite confirming evidence of a slowdown in U.S. economic activity and a further tightening of monetary conditions by the Federal Reserve (Fed).
Traditional asset classes and categories declined sharply in the final month of the second quarter, capping off one of the most challenging first six months of a calendar year in recent memory, as global equities, core and high yield bonds, and real estate investment trusts (REITs) posted double-digit losses through the first two quarters of 2022.
Following a notable increase in volatility in April during which most major asset classes and categories experienced significant downside pressure, market performance in May appeared more ordinary, with the ongoing theme of strong commodity-related sector performance firmly in place.
Volatility spiked meaningfully in April and continued into early May as the U.S. government reported an unexpected contraction in economic activity in the first quarter, and the Federal Reserve (Fed) hiked the federal funds rate (FFR) by 50 basis points (bps), the first hike of this size since 2000.
Multi-decade high inflation, the interest rate liftoff by the Federal Reserve (Fed), sharply rising energy prices, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine were a few of the key drivers behind the spike in volatility across the financial markets in the first quarter of 2022.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine dominated the geopolitical backdrop in February, driving market volatility sharply higher and reigniting investor worries of a global systemic crisis.
The strong positive momentum across most major asset classes and categories in 2021 encountered meaningful headwinds in the first month of 2022, particularly among rate-sensitive assets, as market participants digested the Federal Reserve’s (Fed) pivot to incrementally tighter policy.
The ongoing global economic recovery that occurred throughout 2021 was accompanied by historically elevated returns across most risk-oriented corners of the market, particularly domestic sectors.