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Andrew Milligan, Standard Life Investments

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2015 a pivotal year for global markets

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Standard Life Investments, the global investment manager, believes that 2015 has all the hallmarks of a pivotal year for global financial markets. Andrew Milligan, Head of Global Strategy, Standard Life Investments, comments…

In 2015 we anticipate modestly higher economic growth of around 3.75%, similar to the average of the 2000s, which will generate sufficient corporate earnings and – of great significance – allow certain central banks to raise interest rates. Equity, credit and real estate will be favoured assets but on a more focused basis.

Global economic growth is muted by the standards of past recoveries and the list of countries seeing self-sustaining growth is worryingly short – the US, India, Australia, China and the UK, but not so much Europe and Japan. We expect further divergence between countries and more varied political economic policy stances as a result. If the US Fed signals a faster tightening path than is currently priced into markets, the impact on the various emerging markets will be substantial.

One theme in particular affecting growth and inflation trends across a range of countries is the plunge in oil prices. A new trading range of $60-$80 per barrel would be supportive for global growth, oil importers and consumer spending, but adverse for some stock markets for which oil exploration companies make up a sizeable part of the index.

The good news is that the business cycle can continue for longer, so we will continue to be overweight risk assets. Careful portfolio construction will become more important with strong risk management along with active country, sector and stock selection, as divergences grow due to currency, debt and energy pressure points.

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