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BlackRock Cuts 5-Year Return Assumptions Again for Most Asset Classes

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Since the global financial crisis, BlackRock has steadily lowered its five-year return assumptions across all asset classes, and announced this week that it was doing so again.

“We now assume lower U.S.-dollar returns from most asset classes over the next five years, following a fall in both yields and global growth expectations,” Chief Investment Strategist Richard Turnill wrote In a note published Monday as part of BlackRock’s weekly comments to clients.

Turnill, who formerly was chief investment strategist for BlackRock’s fixed income and active equity businesses, said the most recent assumptions decline was prompted by the steep drop in bond yields and rise in bond prices in 2016’s second quarter. BlackRock now anticipates that investors who hold long-duration (that is, of 10 years or more) U.S. Treasuries will lose “more than 1% annually over the next five years as yields rise.”

Less than 10% of the global fixed income universe will be able to provide annual returns of 3% or more over the next five years, BlackRock’s analysis shows, and those higher returns will come from riskier bonds, such as hard-currency emerging market debt and U.S. high-yield bonds. “We view EM debt as especially attractive versus Treasuries over the next five years,” Turnill wrote.

On the equities side, BlackRock’s return assumptions for U.S. stocks is unchanged from the last quarter at slightly more than 4.3% for large-cap stocks and 4.8% for small caps, though Turnill says returns for the overall U.S. equity market will be “low from a historical perspective due to high valuations,” with U.S. equities trading near 19 times earnings.

Non-U.S. equities are “offering higher potential returns, along with higher risk,” with global ex-U.S. equities assuming to return 6% over the next five years. However, the impact of Brexit and dim prospects for eurozone growth has led BlackRock to trim its return assumptions for European equities. BlackRock says it has “halved our five-year real GDP assumption” for the U.K. in light of Brexit.

U.S. economic growth assumptions are “unchanged for now, but we see a meaningful political risk to our forecasts with the upcoming presidential elections.”

Investors looking for higher returns, Turnill concludes, must either accept more market risk or more illiquidity risk, such as can be found in alternative investments. BlackRock expects private equity to provide 7.1% returns over the next five years, while global real estate provides 4% returns.

— Check out Stock Market Rally Won’t Last, Goldman Warns on ThinkAdvisor.


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