Kai W. Hong, CFA
Managing Director & Chief Investment Strategist
While the first half of May continued the choppiness seen over the last several months, M&A sparked a rally in the latter part of the month with mega cap stocks leading the way to record index highs. Economic data was mixed, with Q1 US GDP coming in at an annualized rate of -1% (due to a pause in investments and unusually disruptive winter weather) but consumer spending and factory output increased.. Markets generally shrugged off the weakness with the expectation that Q2 would prove to be more robust. On the geopolitical front, the environment was buoyed by a modest de-escalation of tensions in Ukraine and the election of a pro-growth party in India.
Active manager performance rebounded with the recovery of technology (where many growth and value managers are presently overweight) and the moderation of some style and factor differentials. Overall market volatility and stock cross-sectional volatility declined from already historically low levels. Size (smaller), value, and quality were fairly negative, but the performance of most other factors was muted. In a manager style context, there was no clear pattern to relative performance as portfolio positioning took precedence.