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Market update 16 March: Stimulus measures launched

The oil price war and spread of the coronavirus have led to turbulent times in the global stock markets. We are seeing share price and stock market falls, and monetary policy measures that have not been seen since the financial crisis in 2008. A number of measures have been put in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus, which will have major consequences for global capital markets and lead to reduced global economic growth.

Compared with other pandemics, the coronavirus is more widespread and this creates greater uncertainty and exaggerated market moves. Central banks have stepped in and initiated aid measures to stimulate the economy and secure liquidity and access to credit. The Federal Reserve was the first to act, with a rate cut first of 50 basis points and then of 100 bps and they have reinitiated quantitative easing.

Several other central banks followed suit last week, including:

  • The Bank of England, which cut rates by 50 basis points and launched a package of measures to stimulate banks to lend money to companies.
  • The European Central Bank (ECB) kept rates unchanged at minus 0.5 percent at their meeting on Thursday, which the market did not expect. The ECB instead focused on increased quantitative easing and measures to encourage banks to lend more. The market reacted negatively to this decision, partly because it implies that the ECB's interest rate armoury has been more or less used up. In addition, ECB President Christine Lagarde said that it is not the bank's job to keep spreads between European countries down. This led to a significant spread increase between Germany and other euro area member states.
  • The Norwegian central bank responded to the pandemic and oil price war with a 50 bps interest rate cut, from 1.5% to 1% at an extraordinary meeting on Friday. They did not rule out lowering interest rates further. They have also reduced the banks' countercyclical buffer requirement and are providing them with extraordinary three-month F loans, full allocation at the policy rate. The latter is to ensure that the monetary policy passes through to the rest of the economy.
  • On Sunday night the US Federal Reserve announced a range of stimulus measures aimed at supporting the economy and preventing a liquidity crisis. The action, which was coordinated internationally with the Bank of Canada, Bank of England, ECB, Swiss National Bank and Bank of Japan, has so far failed to ease investors' nerves with most stock markets in negative territory on Monday.   

Trump has declared a national state of emergency in the US, released USD 50 billion in aid and imposed an entry ban into the country. Further, at the same time as the central banks have initiated measures, governments have also pledged money and the EU is allowing its member states to breach the fiscal rule in the Growth and Stability Pact to prevent economies from entering a deep recession.

SKAGEN funds summary

  • All funds have been significantly impacted by the uncertainty around the coronavirus and oil price war, in line with the broader market reaction.
  • Energy stocks and companies with uncertain debt situations have been most negatively affected.
  • Liquidity is satisfactory in all funds. They are well positioned to make decisions in clients' best interests and take advantage of new investment opportunities as they arise.
  • As active investors, we are using this opportunity to rebalance our portfolios and position them to maximise future risk-adjusted returns.
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Historical returns are no guarantee for future returns. Future returns will depend, inter alia, on market developments, the fund manager's skill, the fund's risk profile and management fees. The return may become negative as a result of negative price developments.