Fidelity rounds up activity in key areas

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 18 September, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 18 September, 2003, 12:00am

Fidelity Investments Management offers a wide range of investment products which provide exposure to markets worldwide. The company lists its top five performing funds for the three years to July 31 as the Fidelity Funds Euro Bond Fund, which returned 46.3 per cent in US dollar terms; Euro Cash Fund (32.7 per cent); Sterling Bond Fund (32.2 per cent); European High Yield Fund (27.6 per cent) and US Dollar Bond Fund (26.9 per cent).

Here is a roundup of Fidelity's recent observations of key markets:

The company says Southeast Asia, excluding Japan, continues to offer attractive valuations despite its strong recent run. The stock prices of Asian companies look attractive based on their relatively high dividend yields, among other measures, it says.

'Intra-Asian export activity has provided a pillar of support during a period of weak external demand,' it notes. 'This augurs well for corporate profitability in the second half of the year. Meanwhile, domestic consumption is beginning to recover in many regional economies, as consumer confidence rebounds from the rigours of the Sars epidemic.'

The United States, Fidelity's home base and the main driver of the global economy, stood out for the increasingly positive macroeconomic data and corporate profits announcements being issued. This wave of good news had 'led many to believe that the US economy is beginning to recover', the fund house said.

Fidelity said the recent fiscal stimulus - in the form of tax and interest-rate cuts - should encourage growth in consumer and business spending.

Meanwhile, it said, there were signs of stronger growth.

'Equity markets in the US continue to rise,' Fidelity said. 'However, the question facing investors is how much positive news is already factored into equity markets. Major US markets appear to be trading within narrowing ranges, and several technical analysts have noted that equities appear to be temporarily overbought, suggesting that any negative news could lead to a setback in performance.'

In Europe, the news continued to be mixed.

'While business and consumer sentiment surveys have been encouraging, any specific internal growth drivers for the economy as a whole have not been forthcoming,' Fidelity said.

'While the larger Europe ex-UK markets appear to be struggling, some of the smaller markets are faring better in economic terms.

'Even though continental European equities seem more attractive than their US counterparts on a price-to-12-month forward earnings basis, many investors agree that the current economic environment is making it difficult for companies in the region to grow their earnings.'

On a positive note, Fidelity said the region's diversity provided an excellent backdrop for stock selection.