Investment outlook for '18: It ain’t over till the central banks sing

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J.P. Morgan Asset Management - The investment outlook for 2018

It aint over till the central banks sing. Karen Ward, Chief Market Strategist for the UK and Europe, from J.P. Morgan Asset Management provides an investment outlook for 2018.

In Brief


  • The macro environment in 2017 provided fertile ground for most asset markets. The recovery strengthened by sector and geography, and while deflation risks receded, inflation failed to accelerate enough to spoil the party. Central banks committed to maintain accommodative policy for the foreseeable future pleasing equity and bond investors alike. The question on most investors’ minds is: “is this too good to last?”
  • We find little cause for imminent concern. The recovery may be “old,” but there is still scope for the expansion to broaden both through Europe and the emerging world. If anything, macroeconomic risks are receding and there is even upside potential if productivity starts to pick up alongside trade and investment. Even in the US, where the cycle is more mature, the leading indicators remain strong and point to robust corporate earnings.
  • While the Federal Reserve (Fed) will continue to slowly lift the Fed funds rate higher, longer-term rates are likely to be constrained by ongoing accommodative policy at both the European Central Bank (ECB) and Bank of Japan (BoJ). Do not underestimate the impact of the BoJ’s extraordinary commitment to fix its 10-year government bond yield at 0%. Forget “don’t fight the Fed”; it is the BoJ we will be keeping an eye on.
  • Overall, we are more concerned that this “Goldilocks” expansion becomes “too hot,” rather than “too cold,” in 2018. We see little reason to shift out of a portfolio skewed towards risk assets. Given everything seems expensive, we still prefer equities over credit over government bonds. Cash is expected to produce a negative real return for yet another year.
  • There are still things to be wary of. In particular, no one knows for sure whether inflation is dead or merely sleeping. Similarly, central banks could get tetchier about whether they are repeating the errors of the 2000s. A punchier uptick in inflation and/or more hawkish central banks would result in significant market moves. To insure against such shifts, investors should think not just about the diversification, but also the liquidity of their portfolio. It might also be worth building positions in assets less vulnerable to inflation and higher yields, such as financials and value sectors over growth. After a period of exceptionally low volatility, a more nimble approach to asset management may well be required this year.


Read the full 2018 Outlook


Important information

This document is a general communication being provided for informational purposes only. It is educational in nature and not designed to be taken as advice or a recommendation for any specific investment product, strategy, plan feature or other purpose in any jurisdiction, nor is it a commitment from J.P. Morgan Asset Management or any of its subsidiaries to participate in any of the transactions mentioned herein. Any examples used are generic, hypothetical and for illustration purposes only. This material does not contain sufficient information to support an investment decision and it should not be relied upon by you in evaluating the merits of investing in any securities or products. In addition, users should make an independent assessment of the legal, regulatory, tax, credit and accounting implications and determine, together with their own professional advisers, if any investment mentioned herein is believed to be suitable to their personal goals. Investors should ensure that they obtain all available relevant information before making any investment. Any forecasts, figures, opinions or investment techniques and strategies set out are for information purposes only, based on certain assumptions and current market conditions and are subject to change without prior notice. All information presented herein is considered to be accurate at the time of production, but no warranty of accuracy is given and no liability in respect of any error or omission is accepted. It should be noted that investment involves risks, the value of investments and the income from them may fluctuate in accordance with market conditions and taxation agreements and investors may not get back the full amount invested. Both past performance and yields are not reliable indicators of current and future results.



Photo of Karen Ward, Chief Market Strategist
for the UK and Europe

Karen Ward

Chief Market Strategist for the UK and Europe,J.P. Morgan Asset Management

December 2017

Please note that these are the views of Karen Ward on behalf of J.P. Morgan Asset Management and should not be interpreted as the views of RL360.

360 fund links

A range of J.P. Morgan Asset Management funds can be accessed through our guided architecture products Oracle, Paragon, Quantum, Quantum Malaysia, LifePlan and Protected Lifestyle, and also through our PIMS portfolio bond.