Stagflation Fears Cast Longer Shadow on Markets as Energy Surges
(Bloomberg) -- Rallying energy prices are stoking concerns about a challenging stagflation-like environment for markets, where elevated price pressures combine with a slowing economic recovery.
Energy prices have soared as economies emerge from the pandemic. The Northern Hemisphere winter could exacerbate the trend, ratcheting up inflationary pressure and hurting both consumers and companies. A backdrop of elevated costs and slower growth could be challenging for stocks and bonds.
“The next big issue confronting markets could well be energy prices,” said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at Oanda Asia Pacific Pte., on Bloomberg Television Thursday. “I am actually getting quite concerned as we head into winter that nobody is really hedged against this move as we could see a very sharp spike in energy prices into the last quarter. That may feed through into ever more inflation.”
Stagflation isn’t Bank of America’s base case but in the past it’s often been accompanied by oil shocks, and the risk of such shocks have risen recently due to supply chain disruptions, strategists led by Ohsung Kwon and Savita Subramanian wrote in a note Wednesday.
They recommend owning stocks that have seen dividend growth and are more resistant to inflation, as well as small caps, whose prices could be highly correlated with commodity inflation and are trading at a historically elevated discount compared with large caps.
Stock-market moves are highlighting bullishness toward the energy sector. The S&P 500 Energy Index is up 5.3% over the past five days, the best-performing sector, with second-place Financials gaining just 0.2%. Energy is the top performer so far this year as well.
The threat of stagflation is “now a possibility,” Simon Doyle, head of fixed income and multi-asset at Schroder Investment Management Australia, said in an interview Thursday. “You effectively end up with this problematic growth environment where you’ve got inflation and that’s not a great environment for investors.”
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