Investment update March 2019 quarter
With Brendan Casey, Rest’s General Manager, Investments

Rest’s Core Strategy ended the first quarter of the year on a strong note, with gains of +5.34% and +5.07% for the respective three and twelve months ending 31 March 2019.

A sharp rebound in overseas and Australian shares were a key driver of these impressive returns, while steady returns from our bonds, unlisted property and infrastructure holdings, provided additional diversification benefits.

Over the long term, Core Strategy’s performance has also remained solid, returning +9.12% per annum over the 10 years to end March. This is well above its investment objective of CPI + 3% per year over the longer term, meaning members' retirement savings have been growing faster than the cost of living increases.

New year, new optimism

March’s V-shaped recovery is a timely reminder of why it pays not to panic when volatility rattles markets. Following a tumultuous close to 2018, sharemarkets across the globe came roaring back in the March quarter.

Global equities saw their best start to a year since 1991. In the US, the S&P500 index recorded its strongest quarterly performance in a decade, up 13%. This optimism was not confined to equity markets, as bonds also rallied, oil put in its best quarter since 2009, and commodities staged their best quarterly performance in almost three years.

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Rallying global sharemarkets

Led by US markets, international shares, as measured by the MSCI All Country World ex Australia Index (unhedged in AUD), climbed an impressive +11.5% over the March quarter, and are up +12.3% for the 12 months ending 31 March 2019.

Investor confidence was bolstered by a shift to more accommodative central bank policy and signs of progress towards a possible US-China trade truce. With China’s pledge to provide ongoing stimulus to help support its domestic growth, Chinese equity markets were another bright spot.

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Up goes Australia

Australian shares also saw their best three-month performance in almost a decade, with the S&P/ASX300 Accumulation Index advancing +10.9% over the quarter, and +11.7% over the year ending 31 March.

Iron ore miners led by BHP and Rio Tinto were the key winners, as supply concerns and renewed optimism over demand fuelled a commodities comeback.

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A rally too far, too fast?

While Australia’s economic growth has remained solid, it has become less and less upbeat. Australia’s Reserve Bank has yet to give any indication a cut to official interest rates is forthcoming, but there is increasing evidence to suggest it will.

Australians are facing their biggest wealth loss since late 2011 largely thanks to the current property decline. Our household debt-to-asset ratio has also risen to its highest in 4 years - all of which does not bode well for consumer spending. News on the labour front remains generally positive, with the number of people in jobs still solid, but there has been little by way of wage growth.

Beyond housing, there are growing risks around China’s economic slowing that could impact Australia’s growth prospects. China is Australia’s largest trade partner, and it’s this Chinese influence that has underpinned Australia’s record 26-year recession-free streak.

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Global growth not out of the woods

Trade is also important to global growth – and despite some progress towards a US-China trade deal, increasing signs of slowing global growth has led several world central banks to ease their stance towards rate hikes and/or take new measures to boost their economies.

The US Federal Reserve, too, has become more sensitive to investor concerns around growth, abandoning its plans to push rates higher in 2019 after hiking interest rates seven times over the past two years.

Meanwhile, in Europe, Brexit continues to make the headlines with extensions and delays unlikely to be helpful for business and consumer confidence prospects.

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Looking ahead

Although markets have picked up, we see plenty of reasons to remain cautious. Fundamentally, several worries could impact where markets go from here – mostly around growth - while back at home, a cooling housing market is one of many other risks being monitored.

Accordingly, we see good reason to keep our relatively defensive Core Strategy positions in place. Rest currently holds around 39% of the Core Strategy in the Australian and overseas shares asset class. Around 15% of the Core Strategy remains in cash as we patiently wait to selectively deploy this capital to more attractively priced assets, if and when markets correct.

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Rest performance results to 31 March 2019*

Superannuation - Core Strategy option
3 month (%) 1 Year (%) 10 Year (%pa)
5.34 5.07 9.12
Balanced option (REST Pension)*
3 month (%) 1 Year (%) 10 Year (%pa)
4.99 4.32 8.63

Rest super performance results to 31 March 2019*

Rest pension performance results to 31 March 2019*

This material is current as at March 2019 but may be subject to change. This information doesn’t take into account your circumstances. So, before acting on it, you should consider whether it is appropriate for you. Before making a decision about your super, please read the relevant Product Disclosure Statement at or call 1300 300 778. Rest has no relationships that might influence our advice to you. Rest does not pay or receive commissions. This information is provided by the issuer, Retail Employees Superannuation Pty Ltd ABN 39 001 987 739, AFSL 240003 as trustee of Rest (Retail Employees Superannuation Trust ABN 62 653 671 394).


* Returns are net of investment fees and tax, except Pension which is untaxed. Three month returns are not annualised returns. Returns for the ten year period are annualised returns. Past performance is not an indicator of future performance. For more investment information including the latest investment returns visit