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While media reports have articulated concerns about Trump’s “post-truth” approach to politics, corporate decision makers in the US, Europe and Asia seem far less bothered.
20 January 2017
The Arab spring that was to first claim Tunisia’s government three years later marked the beginning of an international movement to give a voice to those left behind by the prosperity created by globalisation.
18 January 2017
But for Alex Savvides, falling profits spell opportunity. The manager of the JOHCM UK Dynamic Fund looks for top-notch, historically profitable companies whose returns have taken a temporary step down.
That is one possible interpretation of the market’s reaction over the past 24 hours, a period in which the Government made clear its overarching aims in negotiating Britain’s EU exit, and two economic indicators suggested inflation, and by implications interest rates, are now headed upwards.
A year ago, the financial crystal ball season served up a humdinger. You may remember a large UK bank - nameless, but we all own a big stake in it - issuing a note warning of a ‘cataclysmic year’ ahead and advising investors to ‘sell everything except high-quality bonds’. The bank predicted a fall of between 10% and 20% on US and European stock markets. The price of a barrel of oil, then languishing at $35, was expected to fall to $16. The Federal Reserve, which had just raised interest rates for the first time in a decade, was ‘playing with fire’.
17 January 2017
Their ideal investments are highly profitable companies which are under-researched (by competitors) and undervalued. Such stocks sound almost too good to be true – why would a well-run, profitable company be overlooked by other investors, and by extension, trade at a discount?
The UK’s annual inflation rate hit 1.6%, which is the highest it has been since July 2014 and a bigger leap than had been widely expected. While the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) had been expected to show a 1.4% rise year-on-year, figures from the Office for National Statistics show that the actual figure came in at 1.6% - a sharper-than-expected acceleration from November’s 1.2%.
“I think the politics are always going to be complex in Europe. We can’t get away from that. But I think if you look at some of the issues that have been evident in Europe over the last few years, and actually what’s changed as a result of it; relatively little.
16 January 2017
The pound fell to below $1.20 overnight and forced a new intraday record for the FTSE 100 above 7,350 this morning. The explanation of those movements is well rehearsed by now - the falling value of the pound helps dollar-earning multinationals that dominate UK share indices because their profits rise automatically in sterling terms.
That said, I believe 2017 really will serve up a change of direction after the long slog out of the financial crisis of 2008. The dramatic reversals of expectations last year – Brexit and the US Presidential election, in particular – make this feel like a watershed for investors.
13 January 2017
Amid the rise in US Treasury yields and the appreciation of the US dollar, there are two key implications for the Japanese equity market.
Thankfully for investors, the real world is messier. Profitmaking is the norm, even if some margins are razor-thin.
No longer just obsessed with all of the above, once we’d got that (in typical British eyes anyway) all-‘important foot on the ladder’ many thought why stop there? Increasing numbers of investors started seeing property as a form of financial security. As house prices boomed, the appeal of someone else paying off your mortgage while you also sat on a property rapidly increasing in price was more than many could resist. Forget pensions, some said, especially in the wake of the pension mis-selling scandals of the day. You can’t ‘lose everything’ if you own a property, they said. So the shift towards these tangible assets, actual bricks and mortar, began in earnest.
One such opportunity is about to shrink for those able to make an additional contribution to their pension pot. From 6th April, the start of the new tax year, the amount that can be paid into a pension using “carry forward” will fall. Here’s why.
A year ago this week the financial pages shivered from the warnings of Royal Bank of Scotland economist Andrew Roberts, head of the bank’s European rates research team, who had told investors to “sell mostly everything” after his team reported warning lights flashing all over economies and markets.
12 January 2017
The manager of the Fidelity Enhanced Income Fund uses a ‘covered call’ strategy to deliver income beyond what is offered by the FTSE All Share Index. He sells other investors a ‘call option’, which is the right to buy stock from the fund at an agreed ‘strike’ price in the future.
Such is human fallibility and the fleeting nature of luck. A manager might employ a style which works for the right companies, in the right region, at the right time. When markets shift – as they inevitably do – the value of the secret sauce can evaporate, sometimes forever.
11 January 2017
Progress towards achieving the former has been and remains elusive. Bouts of growth have been followed by disappointment. When the government raised VAT from 5% to 8% in April 2014, hopes ran high the economy was recovering at a fast enough pace to weather the rise.
It’s been a long wait. The FTSE 100 ended 2016 at an all-time high of 7,143 and has since risen above 7,200 as the positive mood spilled over into the New Year. It is the first time that the UK’s benchmark index has closed a calendar year at a record level since 1999. Shares are on a roll, up 30% since last year’s low in the UK. Wall Street’s rally since the US Presidential election has been matched only a couple of times in the past century.
10 January 2017
Have emerging markets ever been attractive in their own right? Certainly, argues Nick Price. The manager of the Fidelity Emerging Markets Fund points to three factors which distinguish developing countries from their peers: growing populations, immature equity markets, and an abundance of untapped natural resources.
Morrisons saw like-for-like sales rise by 2.9% in the nine weeks to the end of December, with its fresh food range, beers, wines and spirits all performing strongly. It said its Nutmeg clothing range also did well.
The view of markets since the referendum result has been that leaving behind economic privileges from the EU - principally those gained through single market and customs union membership - would be broadly harmful for UK growth in the near-term, and the risk of that happening caused a downwards correction in the value of the pound.
9 January 2017
This is the year, according to best estimates, that the global “dependency ratio” begins to rise after more than forty years of falls. This is the figure that compares the number of non-working age people relative to those of working age, which is regarded as anyone aged 15-64.
6 January 2017
As an Asia-based portfolio manager with my ear to the ground, I have been witnessing several structural shifts in the region that I expect will continue in 2017 and beyond.
This trend of overconsumption is mirrored in the recent behaviour of financial markets. David Gait, manager of the Stewart Investors Asia Pacific Leaders Fund, argues that investors are the unwitting victims of a central bank-fuelled debt binge. Low interest rates are driving money into unproductive investments. Firms are taking out cheap loans to finance expensive buybacks, and banks are lending to speculators instead of entrepreneurs.
On Tuesday Morrisons gives its December trading statement. The company had a good 2016 with rising sales growth and investors will be hoping that the momentum continued over the run up to Christmas and the new year.
The simple answer is probably yes. Whereas the stock market bubble of 1999 was forged in a cauldron of excitement about the new technologies of the day that paid scant regard to realistic stock prices, this latest rally has at least some of the hallmarks of realism.
5 January 2017
Numbers published by the FT indicate that 11 companies and banks sold $19.9bn in debt in the United States as the markets reopened after the holiday period – a record size start to 2017 for debt issuance.
First up, the high street clothes chain Next reported sales figures for the crucial Christmas period, formally marked as the 54 days leading up to December 25.
As we move into 2017, the annual refresh has never been more useful. That’s because the election in November of Donald Trump as US President has ushered in a radically different investment environment. It’s a regime change in more than one sense.
4 January 2017
Brexit (Britain + exit) is a much simpler phrasing of Britain’s decision to leave the EU, while Trumpflation (Trump + inflation) quickly identifies Trump’s policies as inflationary. But if we consult our crystal dictionaries for 2017, what portmanteaus can we expect to see going forward?
3 January 2017
The high-point back then, as now, came on the last trading day of the calendar year. It has been brushed up against since, and even briefly surpassed last year, but never been truly broken through.
Trump actually represents more of an unknown than Reagan. While the latter made his name outside politics as a film actor, his route to the presidency came only after years spent as the Governor of California.
30 December 2016
The first draft of history is always more about the ‘what’ than the ‘why’ and as the dust begins to settle on 2016, here is its story in four charts:
The index closed 37 points higher at 7106.08 trumping the 7103.98 mark set in April 2015, the previous historic closing level.
29 December 2016
Despite a tumultuous year, in which one political shock after another has shaken the stock markets – albeit only temporarily as it happens – she has resolutely stuck to her guns and refused to get rattled.
28 December 2016
23 December 2016
22 December 2016
The Dow certainly looks set to be on the brink of a new milestone, but what is the significance of this?
In making this change, the Fed has not fully incorporated the potential fiscal stimulus proposed by Trump – according to Chairwoman Janet Yellen, only some participants might have taken this into account.
21 December 2016
Back in 2004, 22% of people, more than one in five, expected to retire in their fifties.
The International Monetary Fund put Britain at the top of its 2016 table of growth forecasts for major countries in October, despite earlier warning about the risk of a Brexit shock2.
Maybe more than you think.
As we move into 2017 it seems likely that we will see a return to inflation, if not imminently, then certainly within the next few years as austerity looks set to drop away and debt-fuelled government spending stokes growth and incomes in the US.
20 December 2016
But for Glen Finegan and his team, who run the Henderson Emerging Market Opportunities Fund, political risk has always been high on the agenda. As investors in the more exotic region of the world they are used to weighing up the risk of a changing backdrop.
John Maynard Keynes famously likened stock market investing to a fictional newspaper beauty contest in which readers select the most attractive faces from a gallery of pictures. Prizes are awarded to the contestants who pick the most popular faces.
Back at the start of the year a dollar cost around 120 yen. By mid-year the Japanese currency had appreciated to close to 100 yen. Today the dollar is resurgent, rising back to around 118 yen.
19 December 2016
That assumption is based on the different levels of “efficiency” in those markets – the extent to which investors obtain, digest and then act on information.
Before I look into my crystal ball, let’s look back at the funds I chose this time last year and remind ourselves of my thinking at the time. It’s always useful to make a note of why you are making an investment as it helps you decide later on whether the case for doing so remains intact or has materially changed. Memory alone can play tricks on us, so I like to write the reasons down.
16 December 2016
This would have enormous implications for stock market leadership, potentially being the long-awaited catalyst for a recovery in the performance of ‘value’ stocks in global equity markets. This assumes Trump is able to translate some of his rhetoric, particularly those with spending pledges behind them, into action.
15 December 2016
The US central bank raised its key short-term rate to a range of 0.5%-0.75% from 0.25%-0.5%. It was a decision that was widely expected in the financial markets.
The latest figures published by the Government in July showed there was a 22% jump in the receipts from the tax (IHT) in 2015-16 compared to 2014-15, taking the total to £4.7bn.
Last December, policymakers were signalling that rates would have to rise four times in 2016. Now it’s three times in 2017. In any case, markets have something more momentous to look forward to now – a reforming government, more of which later.
14 December 2016
“DB” workplace pensions have been typically far more generous to members than their “defined contribution” (DC) counterparts. The result is that two people with similar careers and salaries in their working lives, but with different types of pension, can end up with wildly different levels of secured income in retirement.
Few are better placed to do this than M&G, who launched the UK’s first corporate bond fund in 1994 and boasts one of Europe’s largest teams of credit analysts.
For Dan Nickols, venturing a bit further afield can pay dividends. The manager of the Old Mutual UK Smaller Companies Fund notes that about 22 analysts follow each company on the FTSE 100 large-cap index, while only three follow the average UK smaller company. Less coverage means that Nickols has a higher chance of finding a gem which others have either missed or misunderstood.
While stock markets have historically been very jittery at even the slightest hint of a rate hike, this one has been so well signposted that it is unlikely to ruffle feathers.
13 December 2016
Investors love a story. We can latch onto attractive new narratives with blind enthusiasm, even if they contradict what we believed only five minutes ago. It’s no time at all since we were all walking about with long faces, talking about the ‘new normal’ of low inflation, rock-bottom interest rates and emergency monetary policy. Now reflation is the buzz-word. Even arch-dove Mario Draghi now believes that ‘deflation risk has largely disappeared’.
Those readers that are old enough may be able to cast their minds back to the late 1970’s to the era that swept Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan into power. They caused a seismic change in the political landscape and, more importantly, the economic stance moved from Fiscal- dominated to Monetarist.
Inflation is now officially at its highest rate since October 2014, when the rate was 1.3%.
12 December 2016
Brent crude oil moved above $57 a barrel after confirmation at the weekend that the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec), comprising the world’s largest oil producers, had agreed with non-Opec member countries to reduce productions by 558,000 barrels a day.
9 December 2016
As investors await further clues on Trump’s plans, the signs so far indicate that a Trump administration will focus on growth, seeking to engineer a fiscally driven expansion in the US economy.
The secret of its success? Among other factors, flexibility in uncertain times, says the manager of the fund Richard Woolnough. Invaluable of course in a decade which saw the US mortgage crisis evolve into a fully fledged global financial crisis, only to be succeeded by the Eurozone crisis.
While the US is set to raise interest rates and move from monetary to fiscal stimulus, that’s not what’s expected from the ECB. It seems intent on ploughing ahead with its current plans to keep the Eurozone recovery on course, despite increasing questions about its plans that are boldly out of sync with both Washington and Berlin.
8 December 2016
James Donald is an old hand in the space, having managed the Lazard Emerging Markets Fund since its inception in 1997.
7 December 2016
Certainly, sustained higher oil prices would not be welcomed by Britain’s motorists or road hauliers. The RAC is forecasting that fuel prices will climb this month – the first December they will have done so in three years2. That’s less money in consumers’ pockets this Christmas and higher costs for businesses.
Minutes of the latest meeting of the Bank’s Financial Policy Committee, which tries to spot dangers lurking in the economy, showed members saw the “risk of further adjustment in the sector” if overseas demand for UK business property falls away further, noting that “some segments of the market continued to be stretched”.
6 December 2016
Clearly some of these concerns are warranted, particularly those related to the significant expansion in credit that we have seen in China in the wake of the global financial crisis. It is also natural to expect headline growth in China to slow down as the economy matures and shifts away from investment towards a more sustainable consumption-led model.
Rock-bottom interest rates and quantitative easing have, he says, helped the UK avoid mass unemployment and debt deflation. They have offset the headwinds provided by debt reduction, austerity and sluggish economic growth. Far from making people poorer, as it is increasingly fashionable to claim, they have made most people better off.
5 December 2016
The reaction has become a familiar one this year: a result that powerful voices warned would usher in great uncertainty causes only a brief flap in markets, before composure is recovered and shares move higher. And here was I thinking uncertainty was the thing markets hate most.
It is not really fair to compare today’s vote on constitutional reform in Italy with the UK’s referendum. The ballot paper has nothing to say on Italy’s future within the EU or its membership of the Eurozone. That said, the outcome could trigger a political earthquake in Italy and has the potential to rattle markets more widely in the days ahead.
4 December 2016
Shockwaves have rippled through the political and economic landscape and certainly made 2016 one to remember. And it’s not over yet. On Sunday the Italian referendum could spark a fresh wave of political uncertainty.
2 December 2016
1 December 2016
Shrugging off a falling renminbi, the Shanghai Composite has been edging higher since May, the opposite of last year when the country’s surprise reminbi devaluation saw stock prices plummet.
In addition to the longer term positive effects emanating from its ongoing reform programme, the country benefits from a huge and growing population and gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 7-8% per annum. At a stock level, our favourite holding in India is HDFC Bank, which is the largest private bank in the country.
Its approach? Hire ‘best in class’ fund managers, set them to work in small teams, and give them the freedom to deploy their preferred investment strategies. Each of the managers at JOHCM is unique, but they share an entrepreneurial spirit. Many were lured from major investment firms, where they were ‘bound to a corporate process’ or ‘restricted to core stock lists’.
30 November 2016
These though, are early days. While Brexit will take more than two years to happen, Donald Trump’s policy portfolio won’t be hitting Main Street until next spring at the earliest. Not much can go wrong with a presidency that has yet to begin.
The term ‘high yield’ is often derided as a euphemism for ‘junk’ bonds. The managers of the JP Morgan High Yield Fund, though, insist that smart high yield bond-picking can deliver a considerable and consistent income stream.
If that’s you, here’s what you need to do to ensure that you get your future finances on track and in line with the sort of retirement you might want.
Brexit, Trump, investors’ fears - and their exuberance - are all evident in the fortunes and woes of the companies that are likely to find themselves in or out of the index as the exceptional year that has been 2016 starts to draw to a close.
The starting point for high yield investing is thus tinged with a certain sense of gloom – according to the rating agencies, these are the bonds most likely to go bust.
29 November 2016
As the dust settles on the US election result, it has been tempting for investors to shift their focus to the Federal Reserve’s next meeting in December. The emergence of Donald Trump’s planned fiscal stimulus as the market’s dominant narrative has provided a shot in the arm for equities but rattled bond investors. Naturally, everyone wants to know how the Fed will respond to this potentially higher-growth and inflationary landscape.
Step back from the typically hyperbolic language of the financial news anchors: "roiled", "plummeted", "collapsed" (the early S&P futures indication) to "surged", "rocketed" or "recovered" (the stronger performance through the trading day) and the moves that we saw in markets have been very much within the bounds of normal day-to-day oscillations.
Investors still unsure about whether or not the Fed will raise US interest rates in two weeks’ time should have a clearer sense by the weekend. It would frankly be very surprising if the conclusion was anything other than a 0.25% rate hike on 14 December. The futures markets are suggesting the odds are close to 100% now.
In one of the City’s most fiercely competitive asset classes, Invesco does everything it can to carve out an advantage, starting with the location of its office.
28 November 2016
Things look promising for retailers with US online sales having hit a record $3.34bn on Friday just gone, a 22% increase on 2015. Notwithstanding this, competition both online and at physical stores is intensifying, with retailers finding their hands forced into offering larger discounts.
‘Truthfully, I can’t really tell you anything very useful about Diageo’s shares’ says Nick Train, manager of the CF Lindsell Train UK Equity Fund.
25 November 2016
The Treasury has been busy in the 24 hours since the Autumn Statement squashing talk of any such change to the tax relief system, telling the Financial Times that “we completely reject this suggestion — it is not true”.
The IEA also moved to markedly increase its growth forecasts for renewables over the next five years, with policy support and technological advancements likely to continue to help push down costs and drive demand.
The Chancellor made a point of emphasising the need for the UK to build on its strengths in science and technology in order to ensure the next generation of discoveries are made, developed and produced in Britain. You only need to look at the number of patent applications made per country across the globe to get a sense of the catching-up the UK has to do relative to a country like China.
24 November 2016
His announcement included a reduction to the amount that can be contributed to a pension pot once it has been accessed using the more flexible arrangements introduced by Pensions Freedoms.
The latter is a small shop used to punching above its weight. With about 130 employees and $60 billion under management, Walter Scott runs the BNY Mellon Long Term Global Equity Fund in addition to its own-name products.
With a pessimistic narrative dominating markets and the media amidst worries about Brexit, Grexit, and Czexit (yes, HSBC analysts recently coined the term), opportunities abound for the enlightened investor.
23 November 2016
Following the populist surges that helped to deliver a Brexit vote in Britain and Donald Trump to the post of President-elect in the US, it’s no wonder that how much is being spent in shops is being watched so closely. As a daily barometer of consumer confidence and the overall health of a nation’s economy, retail sales are hard to beat.
Even this announcement was a damper squib than it seemed. There will actually still be two statements a year, one in the Autumn (the Budget, to allow proper scrutiny of the measures that come into effect the following April) and one in the Spring (a response to the Office of Budget Responsibility’s twice-yearly forecasts). If this is a revolution, it is the quiet, British kind.
Investing in innovation, resources, and new initiatives would help old timers fight irrelevance, but management’s efforts are often stymied by investors’ fixation on quarterly earnings reports.
22 November 2016
More recently, they have provided a platform for sweeping changes to the UK’s savings and investment landscape too. Pension freedoms, which effectively ended the requirement for most people to purchase an annuity with their retirement savings, were unveiled in the 2014 Budget.