The so-called October effect, a perceived market anomaly which postulates that shares usually decline during October (as happened with the 1929 stock market crash, Black Monday in 1987, 2002’s bursting of the Internet bubble and the 2008 global financial crisis, where the bear market started on 9 October) was fortunately not at play this past month, with most global equity markets closing in the green.

Nevertheless, it was still a bumpy ride and markets have been up and down due to trade war uncertainty all month, especially after reports at the end of the month indicated that Chinese officials doubted whether a trade deal would get done. As widely expected, the Federal Reserve (Fed) cut its benchmark interest rates for the third time this year.

However, Fed chair Jerome Powell hinted that the Fed’s market-stimulating rate cuts won’t happen again unless the economic outlook worsens. While the Fed acknowledged challenges facing the global economy, it said that the US was still doing well in comparison.

In terms of the three major US indices, the tech-heavy Nasdaq gained the most in October (+3.7% MoM; +25.0% YTD), cheered by better-than-expected earnings from Facebook and Apple. The S&P 500 recorded a 2.0% MoM gain (+21.2% YTD), hitting a new record on Wednesday, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average posted a marginal 0.5% MoM advance (+15.9% YTD).


For the second month in a row, major European equity markets closed in the black. Germany’s DAX gained 3.5% MoM (+21.9% YTD), while France’s CAC advanced 0.9% MoM (+21.1% YTD). Central banks in the European Union (and Japan) kept rates at ultra-low levels, although economic growth in the region has been sluggish with the latest data showing that 3rd quarter growth in the 19-nation single currency bloc came in at only 0.2% as global trade wars weigh on sentiment.

The UK’s FTSE 100 lost 2.2% MoM (+7.7% YTD), coming under pressure from results-driven declines in the likes of Shell, the index’s most valuable company, while Brexit fears also dragged the UK market lower. UK equities have been volatile with major Brexit developments happening, including Prime Minister Boris Johnson striking a new deal with the EU as UK lawmakers forced his hand into asking for another Brexit extension. The UK will now also be going to the polls on 12 December, after MPs backed Johnson’s call for an election following months of Brexit deadlock.

Asian markets closed October higher, with China’s Hang Seng gaining 3.1% (+4.1% YTD), while the Shanghai Composite advanced 0.8% MoM (+17.4% YTD). The Caixin/Markit manufacturing PMI, a private factory activity survey, showed China’s October manufacturing activity expanded more than expected, coming in at 51.7. Howev-er, earlier last week, the more closely watched official October PMI data (which polls a large proportion of big businesses and state-owned enterprises) indicated that key manufacturing activity in China shrank for the sixth straight month, dropping to a worse-than-expected 49.3 from September’s 49.8 as the sector continues to suffer under a slowing domestic economy and the long-running trade war. Meanwhile, Japan’s Nikkei jumped 5.4% MoM (+14.6% YTD) and the yen appreciated after the Bank of Japan’s decision to keep policy rates unchanged.


The SA market staged quite a turnaround, closing green across the board in October after three consecutive
months of declines. The FTSE JSE All Share Index rose 2.9% MoM (+7.0% YTD), with the Resi-10 rocketing 7.1%
MoM (+13.5% YTD) as market-cap heavyweights such as Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), AngloGold Ashanti,
Anglo American, Impala Platinum (Implats) and Sasol, recorded MoM share price gains of 23.5%, 16.3%,
9.9%, 9.0% and 8.4%, respectively. The Fini-15 jumped 2.8% MoM (-3.2% YTD) with Sanlam, Capitec, FirstRand
and RMB Holdings recording MoM share price increases of 6.7%, 6.6%, 5.8% and 5.0%, respectively. The Indi-25
remained under pressure but eked out a 0.2% MoM rise (+9.6% YTD) despite index heavyweights such as
Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev; -15.3%) and Naspers (-6.5%) posting significant MoM losses.

October’s best-performing shares were again a mix of gold, industrial, financial and even property counters.
Gold mining shares, conspicuously absent in September following their impressive performances over the
previous few months, rallied in October as the gold price jumped nearly 3% for the month. Among the top-10
shares, Sibanye Gold (+38.9%), was by far the best performer. In second spot, fleet management and
car-tracking firm, Cartrack’s share price shot up 31.7% MoM after the company said it had achieved robust
growth of 20%-plus YoY, largely due to a growing demand for telematics services both globally and in SA. In
third position, EOH Holdings jumped 29.5% (albeit from a low base – its share price is down 49.6% YTD), after
the company said it would offload more assets to reduce its high debt burden of R3.2bn. EOH has been mired
in controversy following a fraud scandal involving its employees and the public sector.

ArcelorMittal was October’s worst-performing share, declining by 17.8% MoM. It was followed by Nampak
(-15.4% MoM) and AB InBev (-15.3%).


Finance Minister Tito Mboweni gave a depressing Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS), which
painted a rather bleak picture of SA’s finances and was widely criticised as not going far enough to address
structural issues in the economy. President Cyril Ramaphosa led a local delegation to the first Russia-Africa
Summit, held in Sochi earlier last month, while Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan unveiled government’s
Special Paper on Eskom, which encompassed plans to reform the struggling state power utility.
Eskom which supplies 95% of SA’s power, is considered to be the biggest risk to the local economy and is in
debt to the tune of R450bn ($31bn). The paper sets out a roadmap for Eskom in a reformed electricity supply

Local economic data showed that September consumer price inflation (CPI) was slightly down at 4.1% YoY
(vs 4.3% in August), with Stats SA saying that the main contributors to the annual inflation rate were food and
non-alcoholic beverages (+3.9% YoY), housing and utilities (+4.8% YoY), and miscellaneous goods and services
(+5.7% YoY). The latest retail sales numbers showed a 1.1% YoY rise for August vs July’s 2.0% YoY gain, while
the September trade surplus widened to R5.2bn (vs a revised R4.5bn in August) as the value of oil imports
decreased. Other data showed that SA’s unemployment rate worsened to 29.1% – its highest level in more
than 11 years.


Business activity remained in the doldrums during October. The PMI – which measures business performance
in the private sector – ticked slightly higher at 49.4 points for October. The September reading was 49.2
points. The readings are still below the 50-neutral mark and reflect a deterioration in business conditions.

The reported also stated that new export orders fell “at the fastest rate since June”. Businesses in turn
reduced output levels for the sixth consecutive month, but the rate of decline was slower than during the
third quarter. “Respondents mainly linked this to a fall in sales, although some mentioned that additional load
shedding and the unavailability of some raw materials curtailed output.


Local car sales were down 4.1% to 295 021 but new-vehicle exports bounced back strongly in October from
September’s brief blip, when shipments fell 3%. In October, exports of 41 277 were 21% higher than those of a
year earlier. Aggregate exports for the year to end-October, at 338 955, were 19.3% ahead of last year’s.


Look at the year to date performance percentages for key international markets (table below) compared
to the performance of the local market. It is for this reason that Brenthurst Wealth has advocated offshore
diversification for years. Make sure your portfolio is suited to your requirements and exposed to the
better returns available through global investments.


Table finalised on 4 November 2019 Source: Goldman Sachs


The offices of Brenthurst Wealth will close at 13:00 on Friday 20 December 2019 and reopen at 08:30 on
Monday 6 January 2020.

If you have any instructions regarding your investments before the offices close, please communicate
with your financial advisor no later than Tuesday 10 December 2019.