In our private lives, the first few months of 2021 were much the same as 2020 – unfortunately. Britain, and indeed the world, suffered more COVID cases, more fatalities and, once again, tighter restrictions. For investors, though, it was a different story. Despite a global economy frozen in motion and the deepest recession ever recorded, stock markets did very well last year, with some major indices climbing to new highs.
It may have been April Fools’ Day, but ignore the ill-fated corporate PR stunts (Voltswagen!). The fact is that the first quarter of 2021 has brought genuine good news for UK-based investors with exposure to global stock markets. Equity markets have generally resumed an upward trajectory, while low risk assets, especially long maturity bonds, have sustained meaningful losses...
It has been another week of markets feeling on edge, without going anywhere. Markets seem to have caught a bit of worry about the passage of growth, oddly just as the wider populace gets more confident and the recent headwind of rising bond yields abated.
Next week will mark the anniversary of the turning point of the 2020 COVID stock market crash. Investors looking at their one-year portfolio returns may well be astonished to find double-digit return figures, ranging from around 15% for lower risk strategies to close to 50% for pure global equity portfolios.
Stock markets around the world have had another choppy week, but this time there was more up than down across the board and bonds yields stopped their upwards trend – at least for a while. The general upward trend notwithstanding, there was a lot of rotation and counter rotation between different market segments...
Rishi Sunak’s second Budget Statement was a hotly anticipated affair. After setting out the roadmap to navigate the COVID crisis, the Chancellor was able to mark down the route out of economic crisis. The pandemic has left a black hole in Britain’s public finances and, while vaccines and gently easing restrictions will help get things back on track, there is no doubt that the UK economy still needs a big helping hand from the Treasury.
Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, delivered his second Budget on 3 March declaring that “we will recover”. The key fiscal event, which had been delayed from the Autumn due to the pandemic, centred on a £65bn three-part plan designed to continue supporting British people and businesses through the pandemic, ‘fix’ the public finances once recovery begins and lay the foundations for the future economy.
It would be some understatement to say that Rishi Sunak had an interesting start to life as Chancellor of the Exchequer. Less than a month into the job, Sunak delivered his first Budget as the UK economy was closing it shutters and a black hole in public finances was expanding. One year on, his second Budget looks to be just as eventful.
Exactly one year ago, on 19 February 2020, stock markets hit their pre-pandemic high. Over the five weeks that followed, markets plunged in the most extreme global market crash ever known, as the world accepted that COVID-19 was a threat of unprecedented dimensions. Looking back, it seems impossible anyone could have even broadly predicted what would happen over the following 12 months...
‘Worst recession in 300 years’ was how UK media framed Friday’s release of UK GDP growth data for the last quarter of 2020. They were also quick to point out that the -9.9% full-year number was far worse than any other major industrialised nation around the world. What they only reported far further down in their articles was that compared to...
As the British government and media are keen to point out, the UK is one of the world leaders in vaccine numbers. After trumpeting the speedy approval of the BioNTech/Pfizer, Oxford/Astra Zeneca and Moderna vaccines, the government has administered jabs to more than 10 million Britons.
In the middle stages of the pandemic, when things had the potential for going very, very badly, there was a sense of global solidarity and unity among people and politicians. Maybe China received opprobrium – it was certainly demonised by many in the US – and the iconoclast in the White House enjoyed being different...
As Joe Biden was inaugurated as the 46th president of the United States this Wednesday, a collective sigh of relief, at the return of civility, decency and a genuine interest in the wellbeing of all citizens, could be felt around the world.
As we wrote last week, there is a broad consensus that this year will see a strong economic rebound as mass vaccinations finally put an end to pandemic – even if we have to wait until the second half of the year to see it.
In official civil service communications, the word ‘Brexit’ has been mostly absent for nearly a year. According to Downing Street diktat, Brexit is an historic event that occurred at the end of last January (or was it March 2019?). Therefore, we never need speak its name again...
December usually has a ring of ‘Silent Night’ in the investment world and, in a year where practically all else has changed, at least this has stayed the same. In the UK, news that millions more would be placed under tougher restrictions over the Christmas period may have felt deflating, but it was hardly unexpected and failed to get a peep out of capital markets.
This week’s edition was meant to focus on our annual outlook for the coming year, while working under the assumption that the UK and Europe would by now be operating under a ‘skinny’ trade deal that would prevent tariff hurdles to trade while also dealing with the barriers to trade that come with operating under independent regulatory regimes.
As the world faces up to a not-so-jolly Christmas season, it may be surprising to learn that sentiment across the global economy was reported to be quite strong this week. Admittedly, this is mostly driven by strong manufacturing data and not the services sector, which relies so much more on social proximity. Nevertheless, the current economic environment combined with the announcement of COVID vaccinations becoming an imminent reality (if only for those vulnerable) had markets starting December on an upbeat note.
During a week when global stock markets continued their more gradual upwards trend, government policy was in full focus, but offered little in support. For the UK, it looks like ‘out of the frying pan into the fire’ when official lockdown ends next Thursday, with the vast majority of England under tighter restrictions than before – and for an indefinite period of time.
The November rally in stock markets finally petered out this week as it felt as if ‘November finally got the memo about 2020’. This was despite further positive vaccine news that bolstered optimism for next year. On Monday, US firm Moderna announced that phase 3 test results of its messenger RNA based vaccine had a 95% success rate, confirming that messenger vaccines work, after the Pfizer & BioNTech messenger vaccine – had also produced above 90% effectiveness a week earlier.