Volatility is back in a big way in 2018. A large increase in the VIX is showing an annual level not witnessed since 2007. The sell-off that started in October appears to have been triggered by a number of negative technical forces in the USA coming into effect at the same time, which impacted global markets.
The MSCI AC Asia ex Japan (AxJ) Index fell by 10.85% in USD terms, on the back of concerns about rising interest rates, slower economic growth, and persistent US-China trade tensions. Large technology stocks were particularly hard hit.
US Treasury (UST) yields spiked at the start of October as the market responded to stronger US data and Federal Reserve (Fed) Chairman Jerome Powell's hawkish comments.
The Japanese equity market dropped in October, with the TOPIX (w/dividends) falling 9.41% and the Nikkei 225 (w/dividends) declining 9.04% on-month.
On the back of unrelenting USD strength, 2018 has been a tumultuous period for Asian currencies. Countries in the region with current account deficits have been facing more currency pressure, prompting their central banks to engage in series of rate hikes to defend their currencies.
The S&P/ASX 200 Accumulation Index returned -6.1% during the month.
The Australian bond market (as measured by the Bloomberg AusBond Composite 0+ Yr Index) was up 0.48% over the month, outperforming Australian equities which tumbled over 6%.
The MSCI AC Asia ex Japan (AxJ) Index fell by 1.38% in USD terms in September. The Sino-US trade conflict and rising oil prices were key drags on performance. During the month, the US Federal Reserve raised rates for the third time this year as widely anticipated, amid positive economic data.
In September, the US Federal Reserve (Fed) raised interest rates by 25 basis points (bps). The monetary authority removed the clause that policy rates are "accommodative", and modestly raised its growth forecasts for this year and next.
The Japanese equity market rose in September, with the TOPIX (w/dividends) climbing 5.55% on-month and the Nikkei 225 (w/dividends) rising 6.17%.