Mike Lenhoff: A real recovery is on the cards - and stick to equities

With the year drawing to a close, investors are turning their attention on the prospects for 2011.

The Federal Reserve has delivered on QE (quantitative easing), which it encouraged the markets to expect. Also, the outcome of last month's G20 meeting in Korea, almost a distant memory, is likely to be viewed more as 'work in progress' than anything else.

What matters now is where the global economy is heading - and the major developed economies should maintain growth at this year's steady pace. But in contrast growth has been so impressively strong in the developing economies, that inflation is now rising. Central banks are therefore raising interest rates and exchange rates in some of the developing economies are coming under upwards pressure, as a result of the weakening dollar, and this combination is likely to produce a loss of momentum in economic growth for next year.

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All this should help to reduce some commodities' price momentum. But bearing in mind the contribution made by the developing economies to global growth over the past year - it is estimated that some two-thirds of it has come from the developing world - this also means that the overall pace of growth for the world economy in 2011 will be a touch slower than in 2010.

Although inflation should remain subdued in the major economies, the UK is the odd one out and inflation here will remain above the Bank of England's 2 percent target for most, if not all, of next year. Core inflation for the US economy is on a downward trend and heading for zero, so part of the intention behind the Fed's QE programme is to raise inflation expectations.

Reflation throughout the global economy is under way, though this is less apparent in the developed economies. The ultimate aim of QE is to create jobs, to bring down the unemployment rate and to stabilize inflation.

We expect that the US Treasury market will soon believe that the Fed will succeed in this and that yields will rise over the course of the year. Indeed, they are rising already on longer maturity bonds. Ordinarily, rising yields in the bond markets would not be taken lightly by equity markets but global reflation is good for corporate profitability.

Corporate earnings recovery has also been unusually strong, so some slowdown in the pace is expected, but importantly, reflation also means that sales should contribute a little more to the bottom line next year than this year.

Momentum has swung decisively in favour of equity markets - owing, among other things, to extraordinarily low bond yields.

Thus, provided the adjustment in bond markets, and particularly the US Treasury market, is relatively modest - a view consistent with the expectation of modest inflation - then equity markets should retain their recent gains.

Given this relatively positive outlook, it is just as well to remember that recoveries from financial crises are seldom easy or without their difficulties.One such bogey is the eurozone's sovereign debt crisis and another, last summer, was the sudden loss of momentum in the major economies recovery. It was this that led to the expectation of further monetary stimulus in the US and to the markets' preoccupation with QE.

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Financial difficulties associated with the eurozone's sovereign debt crisis are re-surfacing and bond yields have shot upwards for peripheral eurozone economies, notably Greece, Ireland and Portugal. While there has been little contagion so far - equity markets have been unfazed - the risk of upheaval remains.

Other risks abound, such as protectionism.

Capital controls have been introduced in Brazil and throughout emerging Asia in response to hot money flows and while a few of America's trading partners point the finger at US monetary policy, the imposition of such controls is protectionist with potentially undesirable consequences if extended further.

Our view on the outlook not only suggests that a sustainable recovery lies ahead and but also that equities are favoured to bonds..

Our market prediction for the end of this year was 5500 for the FTSE 100 and I am hopeful that the index will move somewhere between 6200 to 6400 by the end of next year.

• Mike Lenhoff is chief strategist at Brewin Dolphin