Market Update – 01 Sep 2020

Well the holiday is over and it seems as though I’m going to have been one of the lucky ones with already the government talking of shutting the air-bridge to Portugal.

We got back last night and upon arrival at Edinburgh I had expected to be met by officials checking forms and temperatures but nothing, zilch, not a hand sanitiser in sight just the usual 35 minute wait for the bags!  This was a stark contrast to Madeira where on arrival we were checked, sanitised and tested (if you hadn’t already done so).

This isn’t the only contrast either and although I don’t speak Portuguese there were no daily broadcasts by politicians and everyone is going about their business following the guidelines that were set out at the outset.  The difference in approach is quite remarkable and from discussing with hotel patrons they have a view that looks forward with hope not fear.

In Scotland today the government outlined its priorities for 2020/21, with an emphasis on hope with the First Minister acknowledging that while Covid continues to be the priority that we will not ‘simply hunker down and wait for the storm to pass and that even amid the pandemic it’s a time to be ambitious and to use the disruption to rethink how we do things.’

So, I’m interested to watch how the policies develop and how the country as a whole moves forward, and how far reaching this rethink will be.    I’m sure we all have our own views and this isn’t a medium to share them or indeed mine but where they impact the markets I’ll do my best to report.

However, the political announcement isn’t the big market news today but it does help to demonstrate that although fundamentally important and critical to our way of life just how small these local issues are when you look at the global picture.

The big news is that Apple, the world technology giant’s stock market surge hit a fresh milestone as its value overtook that of the entire FTSE 100 index of UK-listed companies. Tech stocks such as Apple have helped US indices hit new record highs recently despite the global economic devastation wrought by the pandemic.

By contrast the FTSE 100, while having partly recovered from the sharp decline seen at the start of the pandemic in the spring, is yet to recover to its pre-Covid peak and it had another gloomy session today, sinking more than 1% partly thanks to a rise in the pound against the weakening dollar. A stronger pound versus the greenback tends to hit the FTSE because it reduces the sterling value of companies’ overseas dollar earnings.

As I’ve mentioned before Britain’s FTSE 100 lacks the cutting edge pizzazz of Wall Street darlings such as Apple, Facebook and Amazon – stocks that have been doing well in spite or even because of the lockdown so the rethink mentioned by the politicians needs to considerable and not just socially.

In Asia and Europe, markets edged higher early on after strong readings on China’s vast manufacturing sector but they fell back later in the day as a result of the weaker dollar price.  The dollar is now trading at a two year low against a basket of currencies after the Federal Reserve loosened its policy to allow greater inflation last week.

So we have stocks, currency, inflation and politics impacting markets, probably in that order today but I’m totally chilled probably because it’s my first day back!

Stay safe.