Global Balanced portfolio outlook, positioning, and attribution as of 03/31/2024

March 31, 2024


  • We believe the global economy, and particularly the U.S., could maintain slow-to-moderate growth through 2024, but we continue to see late-cycle conditions overall, and risk of recession remains elevated compared to long-term history.
  • A sustained reacceleration to early-cycle growth remains very unlikely, in our view, as the tight labor market and slowing disinflation reduce tailwinds for U.S. consumers.
  • The labor market has supported growth in the U.S., and headline job gains remain positive, but the participation rate has recovered to near pre-COVID levels, making for further improvement challenging, in our view.
  • Consumers have remained resilient, but the COVID-era savings cushion is essentially depleted and the savings rate is back near historic lows, leaving consumer spending growth more reliant on income growth, in our view, which may be at risk if payroll and wage gains slow.
  • We believe the Fed has flexibility to manage real interest rates lower given the moderating absolute level of inflation, supporting a pullback in Treasury yields, but the 75 basis points of cuts expected in 2024 would still leave monetary conditions tight, and materially sharper policy easing is unlikely absent significant economic weakness and credit spreads could widen.
  • Internationally, Europe is facing weakness in household consumption and investment, along with tight monetary conditions and less of a savings cushion than the U.S., and China’s growth remains anemic due to negative wealth effects and deleveraging, but Japan is a relative bright spot, as its inflation recedes while stimulative monetary policy remains in place.

Portfolio Positioning

  • In our view, this evolving economic environment warrants a balance of exposures to defensive areas of the market as well as areas that should benefit if economic growth persists.
  • In the U.S., we are emphasizing mid- and late-phase sectors that we expect will see less deceleration in earnings as economic growth slows, such as Communication Services and Health Care, while largely avoiding early-phase cyclical U.S. sectors, though we have added opportunistic exposure to Financials, which we be believe could benefit from easing financial conditions and a rebound in capital markets activity.
  • We remain underweight to international equities, as a whole, including Europe and emerging markets, but we maintain an overweight of developed Asia, where we see the greatest potential for economic resilience abroad.
  • We maintain an overweight of fixed income with an emphasis on intermediate and longer-term Treasury securities that we believe will benefit if interest rates decline, and we have shortened the duration of corporate exposure to reduce risk from a potential widening of credit spreads.

Q1 Attribution

Positive Contributors:


  • Japanese Equities


  • U.S. Real Estate Equities
  • Western European Equities

Negative Contributors:


  • Developed Asia Pacific ex-Japan Equities


  • U.S. Information Technology Equities
  • Equity Asset Class

Attribution Analysis is relative to the Global Balanced benchmark and was current as of the date specified in this presentation. A complete attribution report is available upon request.

The most recent complete presentation can be viewed here.

Any portfolio characteristics, including position sizes and sector allocations among others, are generally averages and are for illustrative purposes only and do not reflect the investments of an actual portfolio unless otherwise noted. The investment guidelines of an actual portfolio may permit or restrict investments that are materially different in size, nature and risk from those shown. The investment processes, research processes or risk processes shown herein are for informational purposes to demonstrate an overview of the process. Such processes may differ by product, client mandate or market conditions. Portfolios that are concentrated in a specific sector or industry may be subject to a higher degree of market risk than a portfolio whose investments are more diversified.

Holdings, Sector Weightings and Portfolio Characteristics were current as of the date specified in this presentation. The listing of particular securities should not be considered a recommendation to purchase or sell these securities. While these securities were among WestEnd Advisors’ Global Balanced holdings at the time this material was assembled, holdings will change over time. There can be no assurance that the securities remain in the portfolio or that other securities have not been purchased. It should not be assumed that recommendations made in the future will be profitable or will equal the performance of the securities presently in the portfolio. Individual clients’ portfolios may vary. Upon request, WestEnd Advisors will provide a list of all recommendations for the prior year.

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