The global economy enters 2022 in a weaker position than previously expected. As the new Omicron COVID-19 variant spreads, countries have reimposed mobility restrictions. Rising energy prices and supply disruptions have resulted in higher and more broad-based inflation than anticipated. Further, the ongoing retrenchment of China’s real estate sector and slower-than-expected recovery of private consumption should result in growth moderation from 5.9% in 2021 to 4.4% in 2022.
Additionally, there are several risks that are at the forefront of investors minds which has resulted in sharp correction over the last few months 1) Global bond yields have hardened on inflation concerns; 2) Oil prices have risen sharply on growing geopolitical tensions; 3) Escalation in Russia-Ukraine conflict; 4) Domestic inflation is proving sticky and may have upside risks and 5) Expensive valuations across sectors and stocks.
Notwithstanding a highly transmissible third wave driven by the Omicron variant of COVID-19, Indian economy is expected to grow at 9.2% for 2021-22 (highest amongst all large economies), slightly above the GDP level of 2019-20. Additionally, the growth-oriented focus of government, continuity in policy/strategic direction of economy and stability in taxation were the key positives of Budget-2022.
Global equity markets continued to generate positive returns for the quarter as economies opened up and activity levels picked up. Stocks have been on a roll as another mostly successful earnings season has unfolded, but there are reasons for investors to be both optimistic and cautious.
There are several risks that are at the forefront of investors minds, including concerns over the new COVID variant & rising covid cases in Europe, inflation, central bank tapering and sharper than expected slowdown in China. But low interest rates and solid corporate earnings provide a strong foundation of support for equities.
Economic activity in India is improving gradually as chances of 3rd wave are receding. Indian economy is doing better as compared to Europe and US where 3rd wave has been severe. COVID-19 cases are trending down on the back of successful vaccination programme as vaccine supplies improve.
FY21 is half done and the macro data available till now shows the hits to the economy because of the coronavirus pandemic. However, there are signs of revival. After the country’s economy contracted by a record 23.9% in April-June quarter, contraction for Q2’21 is expected to be around 8.6% as projected by RBI.
However, recent data suggests brightening prospects for October and if this upturn sustains, the Indian economy may return to growth in October-December quarter, thereby making a case for GDP upgrades soon.
Global Stock Markets
Despite the pandemic, the global stock markets (especially the US market) continue to be on steroids driven mainly by excess liquidity, positive sentiment post Joe Biden’s victory and also recent announcement by Pfizer and Moderna on positive vaccine update.