Market Update – 13 Oct 2020

21 years ago this week, the world welcomed a new addition.

In a week that had already seen the United Nations declare the six billionth person was born in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, my own little bundle of joy was born.

Christina Aguilera was top of the UK charts with that classic, Genie in a Bottle, Bill Clinton was the US President, Tony Blair the Prime Minister and the FTSE was at 7213, if only!

Wee Megan as she is known in the family was born at 12 minutes past 4 in the morning and our lives changed, for the better, forever!

It won’t be the 21st birthday she had hoped for or that we imagined as we are yet again in lockdown restrictions but we’ll make the best of it I’m sure!

In the UK there are some other major events happening this week!

Yesterday Boris Johnson confirmed a new three-tier system of coronavirus restrictions is going to be introduced in England. The move, planned to come into force on Wednesday, is aimed at simplifying the range of different COVID-restrictions that were already in place across various parts of England and already the devolved nations have said they will adopt a similar approach.

Brexit discussions continue and France has threatened a no-deal Brexit unless Britain backs down on fishing rights for French boats, fuelling fears that President Macron will threaten to block negotiations at a European Union summit this week.  France and other coastal states, face massive cuts to fishing quotas at the end of the Brexit transition period this year unless the government compromises.  This was after a good week of discussions last week so it seems that we will continue to tip toe towards a deal  but with the possibility that the rug will pulled out from beneath our feet until the very end.

Despite of the to-ing and fro-ing the European markets edged higher on Monday, after Chinese stocks rallied on fresh signs of strong economic recovery and market reforms.

France’s CAC 40 also rose 0.2% and Germany’s DAX was trading 0.3% higher although the FTSE 100 lost 0.2%, with concerns over tighter economic restrictions looming in parts of the country.  It followed gains in much of Asian in trading overnight.   Equity markets in the region have started the week on the front foot with the Shanghai Composite leading the gains partly on the back of news that Chinese President Xi could unveil plans to further open parts of the economy to foreign investment. Stocks were trading 2.6% higher in Shanghai.

China’s government is exploring ways for institutional investors to attract more mid and long-term funds, according to Reuters.  The most recent data also shows sustained growth in China’s services sector, a rebound in tourism and limited COVID-19 cases while other regions struggle with a resurgent virus.

In the US, Wall Street stocks pushed higher yesterday the gains are being driven mostly by Big Tech stocks, whose businesses have proven to be practically impervious to the pandemic, rather than companies that would benefit from a strengthening economy.

Apple climbed 5.4% and alone accounted for nearly a quarter of the S&P 500’s rise. Amazon gained 5.1%. Both companies have events coming up this week, with Apple expected to unveil its latest batch of iPhones on Tuesday and Amazon holding its Prime Day on Tuesday and Wednesday. Microsoft also headed higher, rising 3%, Facebook was up 4.6% and Google’s parent company gained 3.4%.

Energy stocks were the only laggard, pulled lower by a sharp drop in U.S. crude oil prices. Oil and gas producer Apache Corp. was among the biggest decliners in the S&P 500, down 4.2%.

Monday’s gains add to last week’s 3.8% rally for the S&P 500, which came amid a dizzying 360-degree spin on expectations for Congress and the White House to be able to deliver more aid for the economy.

President Donald Trump said early in the week he’d put a halt to negotiations on stimulus, even though economists and the chair of the Federal Reserve say the economic recovery likely needs it. He then backed a set of more limited programs before admonishing negotiators at the end of the week to “Go Big!” His administration unveiled its latest, increased proposal to House Democrats, valued at about $1.8 trillion.

Over the weekend, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi criticized the offer as “one step forward, two steps back,” while Trump’s fellow Republicans called it too expensive.

Investors have been agitating for more stimulus since the expiration of extra unemployment benefits for laid-off workers and other support for the economy approved by Congress earlier this year. Even if Washington can’t deliver the aid soon, some investors have been building up their expectations that it may arrive in 2021.

Rising poll numbers for Democrats are raising the odds for a sweep of the White House, Senate and House of Representatives. If that were to happen, investors say it would also increase the likelihood for a big stimulus package after the election. That could offset the drag on corporate profits that investors expect a Democratic-controlled Washington would create through higher taxes and tighter regulations. I’m sure it will continue to be interesting until  November 3rd.

But back to this week, I can’t quite believe my little girl is 21, Happy Birthday Megs.

Stay safe everyone.