January 2024

The main equity markets rose slightly in January. The EuroStoxx 600, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq climbed by +1.5%, +3.7% and +3.0% respectively between 29 December and the close of trading on 31 January.

2024 is off to a positive start, but the backdrop is mixed. The theme that continues to gain momentum and generate performance for investors remains artificial intelligence. The Nasdaq, which is home to many technology companies with exposure to this theme, has got off to the best start of the major indices at the start of the year. In our portfolios, ASML, the world leader in lithography machines used in the manufacture of semiconductors, reacted well to the announcement of a sharp increase in orders. Publicis, a world leader in marketing, is also doing well and is already implementing artificial intelligence tools that seem quite astonishing.

China, on the other hand, continues to disappoint for the time being, and seems unable to get out of the slump in which it has been mired since last spring. As the world’s factory, its lack of vigour is delaying the industrial recovery that we have been expecting for several months. As a result, our holdings in mining, energy and industrial companies have shown lacklustre performance recently. Nevertheless, we remain convinced that the industrial cycle, which has been sluggish for two years now, will eventually pick up again under the pressure of consumer demand. The latter should remain buoyant if the economic recovery continues to take shape and inflation continues to normalise.

More generally, our long-term thinking remains focused on AI and its potential consequences for the companies we own, the companies we should own and the economy in general. It is indeed possible that its deployment could trigger a wave of productivity gains in businesses, the full extent of which we do not yet understand. That would be very good news for our economies.

Clartan’s funds had contrasting performances in January: Valeurs rose by 1.6% and Europe fell slightly by -1.7%, while Ethos finished at 0%, Évolution at +1.5% and Patrimoine at +0.4%.