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Weekly Equity Market Commentary

Earnings drive equities to record levels

Equities Investment Council
The Nuveen Equities Investment Council is led by Saira Malik and comprises the firm’s senior portfolio managers averaging three decades of investing experience.
Saira Malik
CIO, Head of Global Equities
Equities Investment Council member Saira Malik

Weekly market update highlights

Last week global equity markets continued a three-week winning streak on the strength of earnings. In the U.S., the S&P 500 Index closed 1.7% higher, setting a new record on Thursday, with the DJIA and NASDAQ each adding over 1% as well. Outside the U.S., the MSCI EAFE, EM, and ACWI ex USA appreciated 0.6%, 0.8% and 0.7%, respectively.

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Market drivers & risks

Economic week in review

The next few months could remain challenging, and continued high volatility and possible near-term market selloffs are likely.

Risks to our outlook

The Fed will be under intense scrutiny as it tiptoes toward tapering. With markets so accustomed to quantitative easing and low rates, volatility is likely to rise as investors grow leery of a misstep in timing or magnitude.

The agreement to delay the U.S. debt ceiling deadline may have calmed markets for now, but volatility may continue to rear its head as the December 3 deadline approaches.

Earnings season could prove to be more of a headwind for equities, as investors begin to digest the true fallout from the Delta variant surge, tax and regulatory risks from legislative plans, supply chain issues and corporate warnings.

Though it appears as though U.S. corporate tax rate hikes may ultimately be avoided, markets must still assess the expected impacts of potential increases in other U.S. tax rates, including a minimum tax on U.S. companies’ foreign income.

COVID-19 variants, such as the Delta subvariant discovered in the U.K., are likely to continue to inject volatility into global equity markets.

Best ideas

In the U.S., reflation and expectations for higher yields could bolster returns for small caps, as well as companies with pricing power and reopening tailwinds. Supportive monetary policy and the prospect of stronger relative earnings growth could boost select stocks in cyclically oriented sectors in developed non-U.S. markets, particularly in Europe and select emerging markets, ex-China. Select growth companies well-positioned for reopening, such as front-office software leaders, also look attractive. Our long-term approach tilts toward cyclicals and value stocks exhibiting strong earnings growth and pricing power.

In focus: A second life for medical tech

Medical technology continues to be one of the most sensitive industries to global COVID-19 case counts and hospitalizations, given the pandemic’s impact on the timing of elective medical procedures.

Outside of a few select areas (cardiology, neurovascular), most procedures can be deferred for months or even years. Such delays became the norm in 2020 as hospitals paused elective procedures. The result: Medical tech’s growth was stymied, causing broad revenue declines across the industry. Even as vaccine rollouts accelerated, the virus surged in the winter and summer of 2021, leading to more delays in elective procedures.

Despite the challenges, we are growing more bullish on these companies, especially with the peak in Delta variant cases likely behind us. Longer term, we believe evolving medical technologies will lead to fewer complications and shorter hospital stays, at times providing alternatives to drug treatments that may carry adverse side effects.

We expect the pandemic’s impact on health care systems to diminish as vaccinations continue to climb and better patient-management protocols help alleviate the backlog of procedures. COVID-19 has also served as a catalyst to shift elective procedures away from acute care hospitals and into lower cost outpatient facilities.

Lastly, COVID-19 headwinds have resulted in relatively attractive valuations for medtech companies compared to their historical premiums versus the S&P 500.

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All market data from Bloomberg, Morningstar and FactSet

The views and opinions expressed are for informational and educational purposes only as of the date of production/writing and may change without notice at any time based on numerous factors, such as market or other conditions, legal and regulatory developments, additional risks and uncertainties and may not come to pass. This material may contain “forward-looking” information that is not purely historical in nature.

Such information may include, among other things, projections, forecasts, estimates of market returns, and proposed or expected portfolio composition. Any changes to assumptions that may have been made in preparing this material could have a material impact on the information presented herein by way of example. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Investing involves risk; principal loss is possible.

All information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but its accuracy is not guaranteed. There is no representation or warranty as to the current accuracy, reliability or completeness of, nor liability for, decisions based on such information and it should not be relied on as such. For term definitions and index descriptions, please access the glossary on nuveen.com. Please note, it is not possible to invest directly in an index.

A word on risk 

All investments carry a certain degree of risk and there is no assurance that an investment will provide positive performance over any period of time. Equity investing involves risk. Investments are also subject to political, currency and regulatory risks. These risks may be magnified in emerging markets. Diversification is a technique to help reduce risk. There is no guarantee that diversification will protect against a loss of income.

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