Market Update – 10 Nov 2020

Armistice Day, 11 November, is a day of special significance across the globe. World War I, also known as the Great War, began in 1914 after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria. His murder catapulted into a war across Europe that lasted until 11 November 1918 when an armistice was signed at Le Francport which signalled the end of the fighting.

Thanks to the new military technologies available then and the horrors of trench warfare, World War I saw unprecedented levels of carnage and destruction. By the time the war was over and the Allied Powers claimed victory, more than 16 million people – soldiers and civilians alike – were dead.

The photo accompanying the update shows the Cameron Highlanders 1st Battalion, based out of Edinburgh, the top photo showing them before they departed for France in 1914, the second depicting them on their return in 1918, in total the Highlanders consisting of 13 battalions lost 5906 men.  – Lest we Forget.

The Highlanders have special significance for my family as Carol’s great uncle, was a machine gunner attached to the Highlanders. He survived and won a medal for gallantry, which will be passed down in years come, having been wounded twice but each time being returned to the lines.         My own family history across the two world wars is, I think, a little eerie.    In each war 3 brothers went away and both times only William Scoon came home, the second William being my grandad.

Why the tale and the interest, well November 11th is also my birthday and as such I’ve always taken a special interest in the history of both of the wars.  It’s something I’ll do more of in my retirement I’m sure but that’s still a long way off!

It’s 50 not out this year (I know it’s hard to believe!) and it’s a birthday week of celebrations in the Scoon household as it’s also Carol’s birthday although of course she is much younger than me!

Talking of celebrations, the result of the election in the United States has seen an outpouring of joy now that the election has been called for Joe Biden.  In what was and remains a divided country the campaign was bitter and President Trump at the time of writing has yet to accept the result, is making legal challenges and there is growing talk that he might run again next time!

To many of the commentators, including Republicans, the challenges and claims he is making are without foundation but it’s apparent he won’t go quietly and the world is waiting to see just what happens next.

President elect Biden has a big job on his hands, but his service record and personal history suggests he is up to the challenge.  He has a track record of collaboration and he’ll need this with the Republicans controlling the senate. America is a great nation, the last original superpower, if he can get the majority of the country pulling in the same direction during his term then there is hope.

The markets have so far reacted positively, helped of course by good news regarding a vaccine.

Global markets roared to new heights yesterday , with the Dow soaring to intraday highs not seen since February as investors welcomed Joe Biden’s White House victory and the promising vaccine news from Pfizer with investors are betting big that 2021 will see things return to normal.

Mr Biden’s defeat of Donald Trump is contributing already as it has eased investor fears about a continuation of a damaging trade war between the US and China, the world’s two biggest economies but yesterdays vaccine announcement was significant.

Shares in the two companies that have been co-developing the candidate treatment, US pharmaceuticals maker Pfizer and German biotechnology firm BioNTech, were up more than 9 per cent and 13 per cent respectively.  The firms announced that their experimental vaccine had been more than 90 per cent effective in preventing coronavirus – a result far better than experts and market analysts had been expecting

In the UK, the recovery was led by travel companies and hotel chains. At one point in the day’s trading, shares in jet engine maker Rolls-Royce had risen 23 per cent, while British Airways parent company IAG were up 22 per cent. Shares in EasyJet and airport catering firm Compass also rose quickly.

For hospitality firms, shares in Intercontinental Hotels Group – which also owns Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza and Hotel Indigo – were up almost 12 per cent at market close, while those in Whitbread (which owns Premier Inn) were up 16 per cent.

Shares on Wall Street started the day’s trading strongly, with the S&P 500 index rising 3 per cent as it opened. The price of futures – contracts to make share trades in the future, which indicate optimism in the coming months – were also rising quickly.

But at the other end of the market, shares in several firms that have done particularly well during the Covid-19 lockdown started to lose their luster.

Shares in Zoom Video, the favoured videoconferencing software of the pandemic, fell more than 15 per cent in premarket trading. Amazon and Netflix stock also dropped over 3 and 5 per cent, respectively.

In Japan, shares jumped to a 30-year high – rising 2.6 per cent at open, and closing the day up 2.1 per cent – to reach a level not recorded since 1991. Its gains were also somewhat due to a recent boom in car manufacturing from brands including Toyota.

Market recovery?

Neil Wilson, chief analyst at Markets.com, said the market was expecting a recovery in “beaten-down” sectors, such as travel and hospitality, next year.

“Initial optimism is exceedingly high and could fade – we should not be jumping any guns here – but ultimately a vaccine that works effectively would be good for the economy and favours the cyclical parts of the market that we thought were going to struggle as a split Congress meant less stimulus. A working vaccine is positive for cyclicals and value – the reopening trade essentially.

“The dichotomy in the market is stark: the biggest gainers in a frantic session today are among those stocks worst hit by the pandemic – travel and leisure chiefly, whilst Covid winners are doing poorly.

Markets had already enjoyed a strong run last week as it looked increasingly likely that Mr Biden was on course to amass enough electoral college votes to defeat Mr Trump that had helped them to recover after a recent period when sentiment has been weakened by fears about the impact of rising coronavirus cases and new lockdowns.

So things are looking more optimistic, a Biden Presidency, a vaccine, improved relations between China and the USA, all we need now is a Brexit deal!

Before finishing there is one other item I want to mention, it doesn’t affect all clients only those who use the Standard Life WRAP and who regularly access the client portal.   Standard Life will be making some enhancements to the WRAP this week, it requires some attention from yourself to re-register so you can expect an email Wednesday evening asking you to do this.

If you don’t receive an email by the end of the week and would like online access then please get in touch with me and I can facilitate.

Stay safe.