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August was another good month for share markets, continuing the strong recovery from the pandemic-induced sell-off in February and March. Global equities have seen a particularly strong recovery.

This has been led by the technology companies that have seen an increased demand for their services as a result of the shutdowns and social distancing measures. For the 12 months to 31 August 2020, members in our Balanced growth MySuper option have seen returns of 4.5%. Returns for nearly all of our other options are also positive, with the exception of Australian equities, which has recovered most of the ground lost when the markets fell due to covid-19 but still has a small negative one-year return. 

The strength of the share market recovery has been surprising, with support being provided by massive government stimulus packages. Governments have also directed banks to postpone or defer loan repayments and instructed landlords to postpone or defer rent payments where borrowers or tenants are affected by shutdowns. The support by central banks has also been significant, with interest rates at historic lows, and steps taken to allow companies to manage their loans to try to get through the shutdowns.

The outlook remains challenging. We expect to see some volatility coming from the US election cycle, where President Trump is behind in the polls, but is still in the race. There is a possibility of some harsh or destabilising political actions during the US election campaign. While financial markets have taken some comfort from government and central bank support, we remain in unprecedented times and the risk of policy mistakes is high. Shares continue to look attractive relative to bonds, but the outlook remains challenging and we are monitoring all the risks very carefully. 

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