Athletes at the Olympic Winter Games will either taste the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat. The same can be said for investors, as the easy victories over the last two years will become more challenging and hard fought in the year ahead.
October was generally a positive month for global equity markets, helping to push many developed market indices to new 2021 highs. Whilst COVID-19 challenges remained material and new concerns about gas prices, petrol availability and general delivery concerns became more apparent during the month, so far the average third-quarter corporate earnings season number has been taken well. However, most fixed income markets have continued to struggle this year, even if many 10-year bond yields have not yet returned to levels seen earlier this year.
Less than eight months ago, Rishi Sunak presented a Budget that was anticipating the ending of the pandemic’s impact on the UK economy. He announced extensions and end dates for the furlough scheme, the self-employed income support scheme, reduced VAT for hospitality and the £20 a week uplift to Universal Credit. To finance some of that expenditure, the Chancellor also revealed a 6% increase in corporation tax, deferred until 2023.
As we sit atop our prosperous peak, admiring the views of the fastest economic growth since 1984, the best start to a bull market, and the record-breaking quarter of earnings growth, it’s wise to remember that not too long ago we began our uphill journey from the depths of the COVID-19 ravine. Often, the best views come after the hardest climbs. So now it’s time to catch our breath and peer over the horizon at what’s to come as we begin our descent from this peak. However, just as the summit of one mountain can become the base of another, the investment landscape goes on indefinitely, which makes adhering to a disciplined investment strategy of the utmost importance.
Hopefully you enjoyed a good summer break. August was another positive month for many financial markets, with one pan-European (including the U.K.) index achieving a seventh consecutive advance. Whilst 2021 started with material concerns about COVID-19 challenges, limited vaccination numbers and widespread lockdowns, progress has been made on all fronts. No doubt the late August news that seven further countries have been added to the U.K.’s green travel rules, will further boost hopes that a return to previous norms are closer.
For most investors focused on the U.K., Europe and/or the United States, July was far from an unattractive month in all but a minority of equity sectors. This pleasingly allowed a further building of year-to-date returns. Meanwhile bond market yields generally tightened further. Although fixed income markets remain on average dull performers in 2021, performance has improved in recent months.
Americans, bored in their COVID-induced ‘bubbles,’ turned to board games for fun last year, boosting sales 300%. They rolled the dice, drew the cards, and buffed the skills of cooperation, problem solving, emotional intelligence, and reflective logic — the same competencies critical to successful investment strategies. So, we couldn’t help looking back nostalgically to our favourite games — and probably yours — as we look forward to crafting a sustainable investment game plan.
The fifth month of 2021 will not go down as an important month for global investors. Most equity and bond market investors made some positive – but relatively modest – gains during May. And whilst COVID-19 vaccination progress across many countries has been notable over recent weeks, the general economic outlook across the U.K., United States and Europe has recently improved. Certainly underlying confidence for the rest of this year and into 2022 has improved over recent weeks.
Sixty years ago, Marshall Nirenberg and Henrich Matthaei began the process of cracking the genetic code. Thanks to their persistence and resilience, today’s scientists developed effective mRNA-based vaccines in record time – saving millions of lives from COVID-19. With the darkest days of the pandemic behind us, investors can also appreciate the resilience of the economy and financial markets and the hopeful prospect of brighter days ahead.
It is less than a year since Rishi Sunak presented his first Budget, after having been in the role of Chancellor for less than a month. His despatch box première featured an allocation of £12bn towards mitigating the impact of the Covid-19. Ironically, on the same day as Mr Sunak revealed that boost to spending, the World Health Organisation declared the outbreak a pandemic. Total expenditure in the U.K. on dealing with the pandemic is now estimated to be around £300bn.