Financial markets have had a much stronger first half of the year, after what was without a doubt a difficult 2022. US and European equities each saw a H1 rally of circa 16%, meaning 2023 so far has largely been a mirror image of last year with regard to the asset class. This positivity comes despite ongoing challenges from inflation, interest rate hikes, slowing global growth, a banking mini-crisis, an ongoing war in Ukraine, and debt-ceiling issues in the US. Headline inflation continued to decline over the first half of the year, which is encouraging. However, core inflation is looking stickier than feared and has led bond markets to weaken recently.
Despite investors recently pricing in higher rates for longer, US stocks have officially joined their European counterparts and have entered bull market territory as the S&P 500 index rebounded by 20% from its October lows, with sentiment broadly higher as a result. The increase has broadly been driven by optimism surrounding Artificial Intelligence (AI) and stronger-than-expected economic strength in the United States.
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