What happened this quarter (3 months to 31 March 2020)
International equity markets had a tough start to 2020 as the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak worsened, bringing global growth and business activity to a near halt. The sharp slowdown saw investor sentiment wane, resulting in double-digit losses for most major global indices.
The bull market in US equities came to an abrupt halt in the first quarter, with major indices at one point falling as much as 30% from their record highs in mid-February. Over the quarter, the S&P 500 fell 20%, while the NASDAQ 100 fell 10.5%.
In sector news, energy and materials were some of the worst-performing stocks as the price of oil fell more than 50% towards $20 a barrel. This followed a breakdown in production talks between Russia and Saudi Arabia, two of the world’s largest oil producers.
It was a better quarter for bond investors as central banks aggressively cut interest rates as the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak brought global trade and growth to a near halt. Furthermore, government bonds saw strong demand as volatility hit unprecedented levels, making safe-haven assets, like government bonds, attractive.
In the US, the Federal Reserve cut the fed funds rate by 150 basis points over the quarter and announced a further $700 billion in quantitative easing. In New Zealand, the Reserve Bank of New Zealand cut the Official Cash Rate by 75 basis points to a record low 0.25%, citing a deteriorating outlook for the global economy. In addition, the central bank announced a quantitative easing programme for the first time, saying it would buy up to $30 billion in government bonds.
Against this backdrop of falling rates and growing uncertainty around the global economic outlook, bond funds outperformed most other funds over the quarter.
While we have seen unprecedented levels of fiscal stimulus to soften the blow, the short to medium-term outlook remains uncertain.
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How the fund has performed against its objective
The fund aims to achieve (after the fund charge and before tax) over the long term a moderate to higher yearly return allowing for moderate to large movements of value up and down including occasional negative yearly returns.
The graph below shows the value of a $1,000 investment made at the time the fund launched. The blue line represents the actual value of the investment while the aqua line shows the level (fund objective) the fund aims to beat over the long term. When the blue line is higher than the aqua line, the performance is better than target.
The fund invests mainly in growth assets (equities, listed property and listed infrastructure), with some exposure to income assets (cash and cash equivalents and fixed interest). The fund may also invest in alternative assets.
This chart shows the mix of assets that the fund generally intends to invest in.
See the fund's actual investment mix on page 3 of the Fund update.