Good run 'might be as good as it gets'

Last updated 15:33 17/07/2014

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In an unusual alignment of the investment stars, all asset classes made positive returns in the June quarter, according to AMP Capital.

But after a period of good returns across the board for diversified fund investors, AMP warned that "this might be as good as it gets in 2014".

Global shares made solid gains in the June quarter. But after beating global markets in the March quarter, both New Zealand and Australian shares were more subdued in the last three months, AMP said.

There had been "profit taking" on technology shares and some weaker retail sector company results weighed on the local sharemarket.

An austere budget from the new Abbott government in Australia and a fall in iron-ore prices held back the Australian sharemarket.

The New Zealand market for new sharemarket floats was buoyant, but buyers had been more discriminating, both on quality and the price of new market listings, AMP said.

Despite rising interest rates, quality shares in the electricity and property sectors had done well in the quarter.

There was less concern about the political risk of a potential change in government in the September election, but that was moving towards "complacency".

New Zealand share values remained "fair overall", AMP said.

But the high New Zealand dollar was putting pressure on companies with offshore assets and businesses.
Global and domestic bonds were both positive in the quarter.

All diversified funds were positive in the quarter, with AMP's capital growth fund showing the best result at 4.4 per cent for the quarter and 17.2 per cent for the year to June.

But with positive returns from all asset classes and a period of low volatility, which was often followed by low share returns in the following 12 months, "this might be as good as it gets in 2014", AMP head of investment strategy Keith Poore said.

Global growth would be stronger in 2014, but the margin of the lift has reduced since the March quarter, after a weak start to the year for the United States economy.

In New Zealand, March quarter growth was 1 per cent, the third quarter in a row of economic growth at or above 1 per cent.

AMP NZ chief economist Bevan Graham said the economy was now probably past the peak in quarterly growth rates.

"While growth will nudge down a little, domestic demand will remain strong," he said.

Consumer and business confidence were still strong, but off their highs. And dairy prices had fallen a third since February.

However, growth would continue to be faster than could be expected without sparking inflation, even though June quarter inflation was lower than expected at 0.3 per cent and 1.6 per cent for the year.

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With growth stronger than "potential", the Reserve Bank was expected to keep lifting interest rates.

AMP expected the Reserve Bank to lift official interest rates again next week, but rates would then be on hold "for a while". They would move up over time, but it would not be a smooth process.

The high New Zealand dollar remained a frustration.

"The exchange rate will be an important factor in determining the phasing and extent of future interest rate increases, with a pause in the tightening cycle likely soon," Graham said.

- Stuff

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