News / Views

Investment Notes

Follow our regular updates to stay up-to-date with current financial planning and investment issues. We regularly publish press clippings, articles and thinkpieces that we think might be of interest to our clients.

Stock markets have declined markedly this week, as it became clear the coronavirus (or “Covid-19“) has not been contained within China; outbreaks in Italy and Iran seem to make it more likely the virus could spread around the world.

It has been our long-standing expectation that the UK will vote to stay in the EU at the referendum on Thursday 23 June 2016. This judgement has been based on the belief that the British electorate is internationalist in nature and would respond to the exhortations of political leaders to continue with EU membership.

Both we and markets were surprised by the turn of events concerning Greece over the weekend. Our central assumption had been that an agreement would be cobbled together as deadlines began to bite, and we didn’t expect the Greek government to call a referendum; the subsequent sharp fall in European stock markets shows that other investors had a similar view. The question now is whether the reaction in financial markets is simply the volatility that arises when unexpected events occur, or whether there is a risk of a permanent loss of capital. We are taking an optimistic stance, expecting company share prices to recover; we don’t believe that events in Greece will derail the economic recovery in Europe and the West, for the reasons set out in this note. Meanwhile, we are likely to see more tragic scenes from Athens on the television news, as the crisis impacts everyday life.

Despite the increasing concerns of a Greek default and the additional volatility this has brought to most world markets, we believe that there is more global bloom than gloom; this note explains why current portfolio allocations should be maintained with company shares and commercial property predominating over cash and bonds.

The ECB announces new policy measures to stimulate the economy

In recent weeks the gap in opinion polls between those in favour and those against Scottish independence has narrowed from about 10% to about 5%. With some months of campaigning still to go, the vote on 18 September looks increasingly likely to be close. What are the likely political, economic and market implications of a Yes vote?

This was probably the most important Budget since 2011, which set in place the austerity strategy for this parliament. Its significance lies not so much in the economic or fiscal announcements but more in the area of personal financial planning, allowing investors aged over 55 full access to their Defined Contribution pension assets, and in simplifying and extending the ISA savings rules.

The outlook for returns from European shares for the next few years is not exciting, though the level of dividend yields is likely to support current prices, thereby limiting the downside risk in these markets.

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