Key market movements - September 2022

Volatility remained high through the third quarter of 2022 as markets priced in changing expectations on the economic impact of rapidly rising interest rates, European energy uncertainty increased, and the effects of COVID-19 continued to linger. The quarter was a story of two halves - July and August delivered some initial relief and strong returns for battered investors in both share and bond markets, and then September reversed course, wiping out the majority of the earlier gains.

International shares

-5.1% (hedged to NZD)

-4.7% (unhedged)

The quarter began with a share market rally, as hopes of a pivot on interest rate reductions in 2023 helped raise growth prospects. These hopes were dashed following a summit of central bankers, who reaffirmed their commitment to fighting inflation through higher interest rates, which took place during the quarter.

The S&P 500 Index lost -4.9% for the quarter in USD terms after being up +9.2% at the end of July. Consumer discretionary was the strongest sector, led by Amazon which reported solid mid-year revenue growth and a rosy projection for the third quarter. The energy sector was also a strong performer with Exxon Mobil and Chevron Corporation advancing, despite the oil price having declined from its June peak.

Across the Atlantic, European shares were down with inflationary concerns - in particular, increasing energy costs - weighing on the economy. Nord Stream 1, the main gas pipeline between Russia and Europe was ‘closed for maintenance’ for long periods, and leaks to the Nord Stream 2 under the Baltic Sea have raised concerns of energy shortages this European winter. Natural gas prices remain heightened, trading as much as three times the 2022 opening price. The European and British central banks raised interest rates through the quarter and the euro tumbled to a 20 year low against the US dollar. All of this contributed to losses and the S&P Europe 350 index declined -4.0% in local currency terms.

A weak New Zealand dollar and a very strong US dollar moved the USD/NZD rate by over 10% (from 0.624 to 0.559). While this now makes holidays to Hawaii more expensive for Kiwis, it also means significant foreign exchange gains for local investors holding unhedged securities. This sort of price action often occurs during times of market stress.

In New Zealand dollar terms, the MSCI World ex-Australia Index delivered a return of -5.1% for the quarter on a hedged basis, and +4.7% unhedged. This meant the rolling 12 month return for the New Zealand dollar hedged index reduced to -17.1%, while the unhedged index is down -1.0%.

Source: MSCI World ex-Australia Index (net div.)


Emerging markets shares


Against the backdrop of slowing global growth, heightened inflationary pressure and rising interest rates, emerging market equities posted negative returns in the third quarter.

China underperformed by a significant margin, which dragged the overall index down. A slump in the Chinese property market weighed on investor sentiment, and the imposition of Covid-related lockdowns in various major cities negatively impacted domestic demand. Growth-sensitive north Asian markets, such as South Korea and Taiwan, also declined as the outlook for global trade deteriorated.

Poland and the Czech Republic were also among the biggest decliners, as the Russian war in Ukraine escalated and led to an energy crisis in Europe, which in turn has contributed to accelerating inflation across Europe.

India and Indonesia posted positive returns which were well ahead of the broader index, and Brazil also performed well as Brazilian growth and inflation data both improved.

The MSCI Emerging Markets Index produced a quarterly return of -1.1% in unhedged New Zealand dollar terms and has returned -10.9% over the trailing 12 months.

Source: MSCI Emerging Markets Index (gross div.)


New Zealand shares


The New Zealand market was able to hold on to early gains through the quarter with the S&P/NZX 50 Index posting a welcome gain of +2.2%. The quarter again delivered a high level of dispersion, with individual company returns ranging from -30% to +25%.

Electricity ‘gentailers’ (generators/retailers) enjoyed a strong quarter with almost all of the big players advancing. Our largest company, Meridian, delivered a solid gain of +5%, while infrastructure investment company Infratil returned a healthy +12.6% with news of its stake in a US renewable energy company having tripled in value.

Second largest index constituent, Fisher & Paykel Healthcare, declined -7.4% after the company advised its profits would fall sharply from the same year-ago period, when demand was extraordinarily high due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Other larger firms, Air New Zealand (+25%) and a2 Milk (+24%), saw their share prices surge for contrasting reasons. The airline reversed losses from earlier in the year as sales continued to pick up, thanks to border re-openings and the continued relaxation of the Covid-19 restrictions. Stronger than expected revenue results and a share buyback announcement boosted a2’s returns, rewarding company investors who have endured a challenging few years.

Fast food retailer Restaurant Brands NZ Ltd (owner operator of KFC, Pizza Hut, Carl’s Jr. and Taco Bell in New Zealand) was the biggest loser over the quarter. The share price fell -29% as rising food costs resulted in declining profits and the group announced the retirements of their CEO and CFO.

Source: S&P/NZX 50 Index (gross with imputation credits)


Australian shares


The Australian share market (ASX 200 Total Return Index) was robust through the quarter delivering +0.4% in local currency terms. Returns to unhedged New Zealand investors were better, at +3.8%, due to the relative strength of the Australian dollar.

The fate of the Australian market is largely tied to the performance of their banking and mining companies, and both were, in aggregate, positive over the quarter. The 'big four' lenders (CBA, NAB, Westpac and ANZ) were especially robust, with their revenue expectations benefiting from higher interest rates. Materials giants Rio, BHP, Fortescue and South32 declined on the back of weakening global growth expectations, while smaller players, especially those involved in lithium, cobalt and other clean energy metals (e.g. Pilbara Minerals Ltd: +99%, Mineral Resources Limited: +38%) thrived.

Large biotech firm CSL led the healthcare sector up, while energy producers such as Woodside benefitted from increased demand for their oil and gas as opposed to supplies from Russia. Real estate struggled, with increased borrowing costs and uncertainty about future tenant viability weighing on the sector.

Source: S&P/ASX 200 Index (total return)


International fixed interest


Fixed income markets began the quarter pricing in the possibility of interest rate reductions ahead, given concerns the initial rate hikes might cool the economy too quickly. This generally pushed yields down and delivered gains for fixed income investors. However, hopes of a loosening of policy (i.e. lower interest rates) were dashed following the Jackson Hole Economic Symposium in late August and subsequent announcements from the US Federal Reserve, in particular, reaffirming their dedication to fighting inflation.

The ’Fed’ raised US rates twice to 3.25%, a long way from the 0.25% setting in March this year. The US 10 year bond yield rose from 3.02% to 3.83% over the quarter, spending some time briefly above 4%, a level not seen since 2010. Shorter duration bonds saw even higher increases as the prospect of higher rates for longer were priced in; the US two year bond yield closing the month at 4.27% after commencing at 2.96%. With two year yields ending the quarter higher than 10 year yields, this ‘inverted’ yield curve is a clear signal that investors remain wary about the future strength of the US economy.

The European Central Bank (ECB) faces an even more complex task, with its policy decisions affecting many nations with varying economic stability. This is compounded by the energy crisis unfolding as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and Euro area inflation reaching a record high 10% p.a. The ECB increased interest rates twice, from 0% to 1.25%.

In the UK, the Bank of England (BoE) continued its tightening cycle with two further 50bps interest rate hikes, bringing the total to seven in the current cycle. The late quarter ‘mini-budget’ announcement by the new UK Chancellor was very poorly received and sparked a sharp selloff in UK government bonds (gilts) as the market priced in expectations of increased borrowing to finance these policies. The gilt market volatility spiked, and the BoE was forced to provide emergency liquidity to protect bondholders, in particular, large pension funds. With the market remaining highly critical of the UK’s ability to finance these polices, the British pound weakened significantly.

In this increasing yield environment, fixed income securities were negative across the board, with longer duration bonds generally delivering worse returns. Corporate bonds also suffered, and generally underperformed government bonds as credit spreads continued to widen, especially in September.
The FTSE World Government Bond Index 1-5 Years (hedged to NZD) returned -1.9% for the quarter and is -5.4% over the trailing 12 months. The broader Bloomberg Global Aggregate Bond Index (hedged to NZD) returned -3.7% in the quarter and is -12.3% for the last 12 months.

Source: FTSE World Government Bond Index 1-5 Years (hedged to NZD)


New Zealand fixed interest


The Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) continued with its monetary tightening cycle, increasing the Official Cash Rate (OCR) twice in the quarter taking this benchmark rate to 3.00%.

In their accompanying statement, the RBNZ noted that “Global consumer price inflation has continued to rise, albeit with some recent reprieve from lower global oil prices… The outlook for global growth continues to weaken, reflecting the ongoing tightening in global monetary conditions.”

The statement also noted that monetary conditions needed to continue to tighten until the Monetary Policy Committee is confident there is sufficient restraint on spending to bring inflation back within its 1% - 3% per annum target range.

With New Zealand inflation at 7.3% year on year in July (next announcement due 18 October), and the August unemployment rate at a very low 3.3%, this continued tightening policy is consistent with the bank’s dual mandate to maintain price stability and contribute to maximum sustainable employment.

Similar to the effects seen overseas, rising bond yields generally resulted in negative short term returns for bonds of all durations, with longer term and lower quality bonds declining more.

The S&P/NZX A-Grade Corporate Bond Index fell -1.1% for the quarter, while the longer duration but higher quality S&P/NZX NZ Government Bond Index fell -1.9%.

Source: S&P/NZX A-Grade Corporate Bond Index



Table 1: Asset class returns to 30 September 2022

Asset class Index name 3 months 1 year 3 years 5 years 10 years

New Zealand shares

S&P/NZX 50 Index
(gross with imputation credits)






Australian shares

S&P/ASX 200 Index (total return)






International shares

MSCI World ex Australia Index
(net div., hedged to NZD)






MSCI World ex Australia Index (net div.)






Emerging markets shares

MSCI Emerging Markets Index (gross div.)






New Zealand fixed interest

S&P/NZX A-Grade Corporate Bond Index






International fixed interest

FTSE World Government Bond Index 1-5 Years (hedged to NZD)






New Zealand cash

New Zealand One-Month Bank Bill Yields Index






Unless otherwise specified, all returns are expressed in NZD. We assume Australian shares and emerging markets shares are invested on an unhedged basis, and therefore returns from these asset classes are susceptible to movement in the value of the NZD. Index returns are before all costs and tax. Returns are annualised for time periods greater than one year.




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