Register For Our Mailing List

Register to receive our free weekly newsletter including editorials.

Home / 437

Welcome to Firstlinks Edition 437 with weekend update

  •   9 December 2021

The Weekend Edition includes a market update plus Morningstar adds links to two of its most popular articles from the week including stock picks.

Weekend market update

From AAP Netdesk: Late in the week, Australian investors took money out of the ASX as they prepared for US inflation figures to hit a 31-year high with implications for interest rates. The market on Friday dropped 0.4% for a second consecutive day to end an otherwise good week for investors. The ASX improved 1.5% for the week. Healthcare and energy shares fell more than 1% on Friday but the heavyweight categories of financials and materials shed just 0.3%. BHP lost 0.6% to $39.96 while Rio Tinto was little changed at $95.83.

The $22 billion merger of Oil Search and Santos has taken effect after final approvals. Oil Search will disappear from the ASX and its shareholders will receive 0.6275 Santos shares per Oil Search share. Santos shares were down 2.1% to $6.48. Shopping Centres Australasia said more people shopping closer to home during the pandemic has helped the value of its properties.

From Shane Oliver, AMP Capital: Global share markets rebounded over the past week on indications Omicron may only result in mild cases and US inflation was not as high as feared. For the week US shares rose 3.8%, Eurozone shares rose 2.6%, Japanese shares rose 1.5% and Chinese shares gained 3.1%. Reflecting the 'risk-on' tone, bond yields, metal prices, oil prices and the $A all rose. On Friday, the NASDAQ rose 0.7% while the S&P500 was up 1%.

The 5% or so pull back in share markets on the back of Omicron and the Fed becoming more hawkish now just looks like it was a normal correction after markets had become overbought again. Of course, much will depend on Omicron. It is looking less threatening but more transmissible than Delta (possibly four times more) and it's likely to weaken the protection provided by existing vaccines.


As we come to the end of another year, predictions for next year will abound, especially when some financial metrics are difficult to reconcile, such as the US 10-year Treasury rate at 1.5% while annual US inflation (CPI) is above 6%. In Australia this week, the Reserve Bank seemed to finally step back from its King Canute stance that rates will not rise until 2024, with many economists now calling it in 2022.

Long-term investing should not depend on short-term predictions, so the challenge for most investors is to look well beyond 2022. As Nassim Nicholas Taleb wrote in his book referenced in this quote:

When an investor focuses on short-term investments, he or she is observing the variability of the portfolio, not the returns – in short, being fooled by randomness."

In a recent meeting with Morningstar colleagues, after I mentioned I had started to reduce my personal equity exposure because I expect a decent market fall in 2022, I was asked to write my reasons. Forecasting is a set up for failure. While I anticipate changes in central bank policies to hit the market, I also reveal my long-term portfolio holds. Warren Buffett advises you should invest as if you are allowed only 20 investments in a lifetime.

Before the punch bowl is pulled away, let me be the first to note the value of Australian dwellings at over $10 trillion now, before the ABS catches up. Head of Prices Statistics at the ABS, Michelle Marquardt, said this week of the September numbers:

"The value of Australia's dwelling stock has risen by nearly $1 trillion in the past six months. By comparison, the previous increase of just over $1 trillion took 15 months, rising from $7.2 trillion in the December quarter 2019 to $8.4 trillion in the March quarter 2021."

Elsewhere, an opportunity for investors holding USD bonds (or equities) lies in the fall of the AUD, down from close to 80 cents in February to 71 cents now. That's a 12% gain in AUD on bonds which shows fixed interest can do well despite low rates.

It is well documented that Listed Investment Companies (LICs) are now in the shadow of their listed rivals, ETFs. The first chart below shows that while ASX IPOs have experienced a spectacular year, LICs and LITs have done little. But under the radar, some managers have quietly gone about the business of adding to their funds in various ways, and the following table shows over half a billion issued in the September quarter. LICs live on!

Also this week ...

Low rates are forcing retirees to temper how much they can safely withdraw from their retirement savings, but Christine Benz offers some good news based on excellent returns of recent years. In fact, specifically in Australia, those who own their own house never totally run out of money. The age pension and benefits for a couple are worth almost $40,000 a year and while nothing to aspire to, many homeowner pensioners cope well. It's a different outcome for renters.

Simon Brown manages a small cap portfolio and sees opportunities in sectors less-researched than the big end of town. Here are three companies he likes, especially the quality of management.

Scientists have produced amazing results during COVID, and Laura Nelson Carney says it has cleared the way for innovations in biotech to continue as money floods into research. She identified five exciting trends which will create some great companies.

What has gold been doing, and why has it not been stronger with inflation rising, especially given its reputation of preserving purchasing power? Jordan Eliseo looks at the links.

Firstlinks has discussed in detail the potential to access home equity in retirement. Joshua Funder reports on an expert summit which argued for a united look at the three pillars of retirement - the age pension, compulsory super and voluntary savings (which includes the family home).

After suffering severe reputational damage during Kenneth Hayne's Financial Services Royal Commission, the banks have come through the pandemic relatively well. Brad Dunn admires the rebuilding of capital since the GFC, and he is confident that even with investments down the capital structure such as hybrids, banks are well-positioned to meet their obligations.

Two bonus articles from Morningstar for the weekend as selected by Editorial Manager Emma Rapaport

Rebalancing your portfolio is one of those beneficial habits that’s easy to let slide. But year-end is an ideal time to check how your portfolio is tracking against your target asset allocation, says Tim Murphy. And Brett Cairns' sudden resignation from Magellan is expected to have a limited impact on the investment manager's earnings outlook, writes Lewis Jackson

This week's White Paper from Vanguard explores how bonds act as shock absorbers for portfolios when equity markets are under stress, which is fitting given the adjustment described in my article this week.

The Comment of the Week comes from Jack, who suggests how the family home may be included in the age pension asset test.

"What is suggested here is not a death duty. A death duty is a tax on all wealth not just housing. What is suggested here is a “claw-back” from the estate of some or all of the age pension paid during a person’s lifetime, precisely because the family home is exempt from the pension assets test and therefore recipients get a higher pension than they would otherwise. This payment by the next generation would be easy to avoid. Either downsize and release capital or borrow against the equity in the house. Either way you replace the age pension with your own income stream. If there was no pension received, there would be no “claw-back”. But it would mean that if you had the means, you would not rely on the welfare payment of the age pension."


Graham Hand, Managing Editor


Latest updates

PDF version of Firstlinks Newsletter

ASX Listed Bond and Hybrid rate sheet from NAB/nabtrade

Indicative Listed Investment Company (LIC) NTA Report from Bell Potter

LIC (LMI) Monthly Review from Independent Investment Research

Plus updates and announcements on the Sponsor Noticeboard on our website



Leave a Comment:


Most viewed in recent weeks

How to enjoy your retirement

Amid thousands of comments, tips include developing interests to keep occupied, planning in advance to have enough money, staying connected with friends and communities ... should you defer retirement or just do it?

Results from our retirement experiences survey

Retirement is a good experience if you plan for it and manage your time, but freedom from money worries is key. Many retirees enjoy managing their money but SMSFs are not for everyone. Each retirement is different.

A tonic for turbulent times: my nine tips for investing

Investing is often portrayed as unapproachably complex. Can it be distilled into nine tips? An economist with 35 years of experience through numerous market cycles and events has given it a shot.

Rival standard for savings and incomes in retirement

A new standard argues the majority of Australians will never achieve the ASFA 'comfortable' level of retirement savings and it amounts to 'fearmongering' by vested interests. If comfortable is aspirational, so be it.

Dalio v Marks is common sense v uncommon sense

Billionaire fund manager standoff: Ray Dalio thinks investing is common sense and markets are simple, while Howard Marks says complex and convoluted 'second-level' thinking is needed for superior returns.

Fear is good if you are not part of the herd

If you feel fear when the market loses its head, you become part of the herd. Develop habits to embrace the fear. Identify the cause, decide if you need to take action and own the result without looking back. 

Latest Updates


The paradox of investment cycles

Now we're captivated by inflation and higher rates but only a year ago, investors were certain of the supremacy of US companies, the benign nature of inflation and the remoteness of tighter monetary policy.


Reporting Season will show cost control and pricing power

Companies have been slow to update guidance and we have yet to see the impact of inflation expectations in earnings and outlooks. Companies need to insulate costs from inflation while enjoying an uptick in revenue.


The early signals for August company earnings

Weaker share prices may have already discounted some bad news, but cost inflation is creating wide divergences inside and across sectors. Early results show some companies are strong enough to resist sector falls.


The compelling 20-year flight of SYD into private hands

In 2002, the share price of the company that became Sydney Airport (SYD) hit 80 cents from the $2 IPO price. After 20 years of astute investment driving revenue increases, it sold to private hands for $8.75 in 2022.

Investment strategies

Ethical investing responding to some short-term challenges

There are significant differences in the sector weightings of an ethical fund versus an index, and while this has caused some short-term headwinds recently, the tailwinds are expected to blow over the long term.

Investment strategies

If you are new to investing, avoid these 10 common mistakes

Many new investors make common mistakes while learning about markets. Losses are inevitable. Newbies should read more and develop a long-term focus while avoiding big mistakes and not aiming to be brilliant.

Investment strategies

RMBS today: rising rate-linked income with capital preservation

Lenders use Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities to finance mortgages and RMBS are available to retail investors through fund structures. They come with many layers of protection beyond movements in house prices. 



© 2022 Morningstar, Inc. All rights reserved.

The data, research and opinions provided here are for information purposes; are not an offer to buy or sell a security; and are not warranted to be correct, complete or accurate. Morningstar, its affiliates, and third-party content providers are not responsible for any investment decisions, damages or losses resulting from, or related to, the data and analyses or their use. Any general advice or ‘regulated financial advice’ under New Zealand law has been prepared by Morningstar Australasia Pty Ltd (ABN: 95 090 665 544, AFSL: 240892) and/or Morningstar Research Ltd, subsidiaries of Morningstar, Inc, without reference to your objectives, financial situation or needs. For more information refer to our Financial Services Guide (AU) and Financial Advice Provider Disclosure Statement (NZ). You should consider the advice in light of these matters and if applicable, the relevant Product Disclosure Statement before making any decision to invest. Past performance does not necessarily indicate a financial product’s future performance. To obtain advice tailored to your situation, contact a professional financial adviser. Articles are current as at date of publication.
This website contains information and opinions provided by third parties. Inclusion of this information does not necessarily represent Morningstar’s positions, strategies or opinions and should not be considered an endorsement by Morningstar.