Citi Cuts ‘Expensive’ U.S. Stocks to Neutral, Favors EM, U.K.

Investors should cut allocations to “expensive” U.S. equities to neutral and expect better gains from emerging market and U.K. stocks this year, according to strategists at Citigroup Inc.

A team including Robert Buckland cut its recommendation on American shares and upgraded stocks from developing economies to overweight in a note to clients Wednesday. The strategists expect just a 2% increase in global stock prices in 2021, according to the report.

“Our market targets suggest a flat MSCI AC World index over the year,” they wrote. “We forecast the best returns in the U.K., Australia and EM.”

Citi Cuts ‘Expensive’ U.S. Stocks to Neutral, Favors EM, U.K.

Non-U.S. stocks are outperforming their American peers so far this year with the MSCI World ex-U.S. Index hitting its highest level in more than 12 years. The “rest-of-the-world” gauge is ahead of the S&P 500 by almost 2 percentage points so far in 2021, after lagging by about 11 points last year.

Ongoing U.S. fiscal expansion should continue to pressure the dollar, helping emerging market equities and commodity stocks, according to the Citi strategists. Treasury yields are expected to rise, which should drive a further rotation into value shares, they said.

“Our mildly optimistic view on global equities will be too optimistic if vaccines do not drive a recovery in the global economy,” the team wrote. “Alternatively, we may not be bullish enough if very low rates drive a big flow of capital into equity funds and a further rerating.”

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