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Best and worst performing investments

investments LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - 2022/09/30: Londoners cross the street in front of the Bank of England and the City of London, the capital's financial district, on a rainy day as UK economy is shaken by the Chancellor and Prime Minister's mini-budget. (Photo by Dominika Zarzycka/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Amid record high inflation and soaring interest rates, what were the best as worst performing investments of 2022? Photo: Dominika Zarzycka/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty

2022 has been a pretty dismal year for investors across assets. However, amid record high inflation and soaring interest rates, was there a silver lining around the UK markets?

From commodities to bitcoin, with gold, equities and UK property in between, we take a look at how different sectors performed this year and whether they will be a good bet in 2023.

Commodities

Commodities have been the top performing assets this year, with the strong US dollar and the surge in the prices of grains and livestock driving returns, according to analysis by Interactive Investor.

Commodities returned 22% over the year to the end of November (in US dollar terms) ⁠— the only asset on the list to generate a double-digit return, according to Interactive Investor data using Morningstar Direct as of 30 November 2022.

Commodities includes hard commodities, natural resources that must be mined or extracted like gold (GC=F) and oil (BZ=F), and soft commodities ⁠— agricultural products or livestock such as corn (ZC=F), wheat (ZW=F), coffee (KC=F) and pork (PRKQ23.CME).

“Commodities being at the top of the pile in performance terms may surprise some. The oil price is ahead by just 5% in the year to date (earlier in the year it was up around 50%), while the prices of both gold and copper (HG=F) are down,” Richard Hunter, head of markets at Interactive Investor, said.

Read more: Will Santa gift investors with a stock market rally?

“One of the reasons for this has been the strength of the US dollar, in which commodities are priced, and which has an inverse relationship to commodity prices (a higher dollar can buy more of the commodity, so the price falls).

“At the same time, Chinese demand for commodities (perceived and actual) has drastically reduced on the back of local COVID-19 outbreaks and subsequent restrictions, placing something of a stranglehold on the economy.

Photo by: STRF/STAR MAX/IPx 2021 3/12/21 Bitcoin transactions are having a very negative impact on the environment. According to the Bitcoin Energy Consumption Index, executing a single Bitcoin transaction requires the same amount of energy that the average U.S. home consumes over a trhree-week period. Data from th University of Cambridge suggests that the emissions produced by bitcoin mining are the equivalent of between 53 and 127 million megatons of carbon dioxide, which would place it as approximately the number 6 highest-emitting company in the world.

Bitcoin has dropped 75% since reaching a record high of $69,000 in November 2021. Photo: AP

Bitcoin

At the bottom of the performance table is bitcoin (BTC-GBP), which fell by 64% year to date in US dollar terms, weighed down by the same inflation and interest rate hike fears that have hindered stock markets, and, more recently, the collapse of FTX, the second largest crypto exchange.

“Bitcoin has gone from hero to zero when it comes to performance after soaring to record highs during the pandemic. Unlike past crypto boom and bust cycles, the current malaise in performance is underpinned by factors that have rattled the bedrock of the cryptocurrency industry,” Myron Jobson, senior personal finance analyst at Interactive Investor, said.

The collapse of FTX, which was the second largest crypto exchange and other lesser-known exchanges had a ripple effect on the broader crypto market, sending bitcoin and other crypto coins into a downward spiral.

Read more: Bitcoin price crashes to 2020 level as crypto battering continues

“The case for bitcoin as digital gold has all but been diminished as the price of the first and best-known cryptocurrency has followed and exceeded falls in global stock markets,” Jobson added, warning that “whatever your approach to risk, cryptocurrency should be treated with caution. “

When considering the currency in which some overseas and global asset classes are assessed, only three out of the 13 major asset classes picked by Interactive Investor using Morningstar data generated a positive return over the period. If everything was priced in sterling, that number still only rises to five.

Stocks

With the FTSE 100 (^FTSE) index losing around 1.5% in 2022 so far, some of stocks favoured by investors have underperformed.

This is not part of Interactive Investor’s research but, for instance, Lloyds (LLOY.L) fell nearly 9% this year. While some consider it is undervalued ⁠— hence at a good price to buy ⁠— others think the lender has been chronically underperfoming and will not deliver in 2023.

Another FTSE favourite, BT Group (BT-A.L) has also seen its share price plunge this year.

It started January at 172p and is on track to finish the year at around 112p, after getting on a downwards trend since July.

Oil stocks, on the other hand, have only gone up since the war in Ukraine started and an energy crisis began.

BP (BP.L) shrugged off windfall tax fears as its share price went from 333p to 468p this year and might even peak a bit higher before entering 2023 as winter brings colder temperatures and greater demand for gas.

Barclays (BARC.L) has remained consistent throughout the year, trading at around the 150p mark although for the first quarter of 2022 it was consistently above 180p.

The whole banking sector in the UK has been hit by higher interest rates as the Bank of England tries to stem inflation.

“It’s never been wrong for investors with a longer-term horizon to hold on to their shares, keep investing and wait for the trouble to pass. Indeed, history shows that markets can and do recover from dramatic falls. Some of the best years can follow some of the worst, so it is worth hanging on in there,” Lee Wild, head of equity strategy at Interactive Investor, said.

ISTANBUL, TURKEY - OCTOBER 06: People look at a gold store in  Istanbul's Grand Bazaar, on October 06, 2022 in Istanbul, Turkey. As Turkey's inflation continues to soar and the Turkish Lira continues to weaken, many have turned to investing in gold. Turkey's gold imports have jumped more than 500% as inflation climbs to 83.45% in September according to recent data from Turkey's Trade Ministry. For many Turks holding gold is a good investment amid tough economic times.  (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

Gold as a separate asset, which is often viewed as a hedge against inflation, was down 3% in US dollar terms. Photo: Chris McGrath/Getty

Gold

Gold (GC=F) as a separate asset, which is often viewed as a hedge against inflation, was down 3% in US dollar terms, with Global Infrastructure, also often seen as a diversifier, down 4% in US dollar terms.

UK equities

UK equities managed to just make positive territory, up 2%, slightly ahead of cash (1%).

UK property

UK property, meanwhile, was the second worst performer on the list, returning -32% over the year, with an economic backdrop that continues to throw plenty of headwinds at the sector.

Fixed income

It was also a tough year for fixed income. Rarely at the bottom of the performance charts, 2022 was the year that saw a dramatic reset.

Global Bonds were down 17% and Global Bonds linked to an index down 22%. UK Gilts and UK Index Linked Bonds also suffered, down by 21% and 31%, respectively.

Sam Benstead, collective specialist at Interactive Investor, said: “Rising interest rates this year have turned the argument that bonds are a “safe” investment on its head. Government and corporate bonds ⁠— which are prized for their reliable income payments ⁠— are rarely at the bottom of the performance charts, but 2022 was the year that bond prices reset following more than a decade of steady returns as interest rates fell.

Read more: Bank of England raises interest rates to 3.5% in blow to mortgage owners

“When rates go up, it means that investors can get a better deal from newly issued bonds, so they sell bonds. When rates go down, this has the opposite effect. The sharp change in policy from central banks this year as inflation proved not to be “transitory” is what caused the bond market crash.

“However, with interest rates expected to peak in early 2023, bond prices could benefit from interest rate cuts next year if inflation is contained.

How different asset classes performed. Chart: Interactive Investor

How different asset classes performed. Chart: Interactive Investor

“Yields on government and corporate bonds are much higher than a year ago, so the “income” in fixed income has returned. This is tempting in new buyers in search of yield and helped boost bond prices over the past couple of months.

“Poor returns for bonds this year could therefore set the asset class up for strong returns next year.”

Watch: Wall Street’s most loved and hated stocks going into 2023

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