In the first quarter of 2016, investors feared that weak conditions in many emerging markets, commodities and global manufacturing would deteriorate into a full blown recession across the developed world and China. As stock markets struggled, equity investors overwhelmingly preferred defensive stocks and gave an unusually generous discount to companies vulnerable to weak economic activity and low interest rates. But the recession never arrived.
Reduced fiscal austerity and continued easy monetary policy, coupled with greater confidence in the industrial sector and increased bank lending, have reignited global growth. Commodity prices have rallied, and the outlook for corporate profits now appears better than it has in several years. Though equity markets have moved quickly to price in the welcomed shift, we still see opportunities, especially outside the U.S., after many years of substantial returns for the S&P 500.