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Let us invite you to travel back in time to June 2016, to the day after the Brexit referendum. Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, campaigning in the US Presidential election is in full swing.
You are offered two glimpses into the future. The first is that two years on, the UK has apparently made no real progress in the Brexit negotiations. The second is that Donald Trump has been elected President and has had a successful meeting with Kim Jong-un. You would have dismissed both of them as ridiculous and yet that is exactly what June brought us, as Theresa May called yet another Brexit crisis meeting and President Trump met the leader of North Korea in Singapore.
…And then the President went on to announce a raft of tariffs on imported goods – from both China and Europe – which may well see the threatened global trade war develop. Both China and the EU were swift to announce retaliatory tariffs, and (unsurprisingly) June was a month in which none of the major stock markets we cover managed to gain any ground. Continue reading →
It looked for a long time that the main headline for this commentary would be the opening salvos in a trade war between China and the USA. The International Monetary Fund published a bullish report on world trade, saying that global growth will hit a 7 year high of 3.9% this year – giving a stark warning at the same time that trade risked being ‘torn apart’ by a protracted trade war.
But then came the news of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s, historic visit to South Korea and his meeting with President Moon Jae-in. There followed a bromance which would have been impossible just a few months ago, and a commitment to rid the Korean peninsula of nuclear weapons. The meeting would have been unthinkable at the beginning of the year when North Korea was boasting of being able to reach the US mainland with its rockets: now Pyongyang says it will invite US observers to witness the shutdown of its nuclear site in May.
By the end of the month even the China/US threats and counter-threats seemed to have receded a little and most of the major stock markets which we cover made up losses suffered early in the month on fears of a trade war. There was, however, one significant fly in the ointment as the price of oil continued to climb: Brent crude went past $72 a barrel in light of the continuing troubles in Syria and the instability in the region. Continue reading →
“The first month of 2018 was a good one for the major stock markets which we cover in this Bulletin. We report on 12 markets and 11 of them made gains in January – in some cases, spectacular gains, which many investors would regard as more than adequate for a full year.”
Sadly, February was the exact opposite: 10 of the 12 markets on which we report were down in the month, following a global sell-off at the start of February. But that is the nature of savings and investment: stock markets rise and fall. Saving and investing is a long term business: a marathon not a sprint. Continue reading →
Thanks to the ‘breakthrough’ deal struck in early December last year by Prime Minister Theresa May with the EU, we now know that there will not be a ‘hard border’ with Ireland, that the rights of both EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens in the EU will be protected, and that the ‘divorce bill’ figure will be somewhere between £35 billion and £39 billion. Since before the EU referendum result was known at the end of June 2016, the ‘divorce bill’ – the money the UK will need to pay to the EU as a result of Brexit to cover its financial liabilities – has been a hot topic of debate. Continue reading →
Another year seems to have flown by in the space of about five months. December, in particular, seemed to go past in a blur.
It was, however, the month when some progress was – finally – made in the Brexit negotiations. It was also the month when Scotland used its tax-raising powers to increase income tax, when Germany worried about Chinese spies using fake LinkedIn profiles and when yet more sanctions were heaped on the North Korean regime – which were predictably condemned as an ‘act of war’. Continue reading →
Given all the uncertainty, how have the world’s major stock markets performed in the first eight months of the year? By and large, the answer is ‘well’. The UK’s FTSE-100 index of leading shares opened the year at 7,143 and closed August at 7,431: that is a modest gain of 4% but given all the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, a gain nevertheless. The two major European indices, Germany and France, are both up by 5%, whilst in America the Dow Jones index is up by 11% at 21,948. The Dow clearly likes what it sees of President Trump’s economic policies. Continue reading →
It’s a tricky time just now on the financial markets, and what you are seeing in the news is not necessarily being played out in the model portfolios or the strategy funds. I think one of the main
reasons for this is that the US market is probably the only area that is moving forwards. The fixed income sector has had a good run since the summer, but even this is down over the last couple of months. In all fairness it should be, because some of the fixed income funds in our portfolios were up around 12% earlier this year. Fixed income should not behave like this.
Normally during the summer months not a lot happens on the financial markets. But what a few months we have had. And it all seemed to have started just after the UK referendum result at the end of June, as I am sure you will have noticed. I have had this discussion with several clients already, and I will reiterate it, I am fairly convinced that the global financial markets have not reacted the way they have just because the UK has decided to leave the EU. There is more going on than just this. Although, as we are now seeing there are several companies and bodies talking completely differently about the UK’s impending departure of the EU in a more positive perspective. And this will have helped the financial markets, certainly here in the UK and in Europe.
The General Election is now behind us, thank goodness for that!! However I think it is fair to say that the result has surprised a lot of people, not least the polling companies, and political forecasters. Apart from the demise of the Liberal Democrats, and the rise of the Scottish National Party, they seem to have misread the nation’s sentiment towards the two main parties. Personally I always thought that the Lib Dems would suffer, as well as UKIP, and that the Conservatives would be the beneficiaries of this.
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