Market Update – 25 Aug 2020

So, this week’s update comes from the sunny island of Madeira.  Following last week’s lifting of restrictions, we decided to have one last attempt at a holiday and it’s been forth time lucky!

It did mean going for a Covid-19 test in Edinburgh which was very easy and efficient, I had harboured thoughts of probes entering my brain as they tested me but it was very easy and painless.

Edinburgh airport was empty as was the flight out but the procedures that are in place made us feel very secure and safe, and to date it has been worth it as the location and weather are fabulous.  Good food and company are the order of the day and although Carol keeps suggesting the paragliding, I’ve told her she shouldn’t do it, although I do think she means for me to fly away!

Now not everyone will agree with travelling at this time however Madeira requires testing prior to or on arrival and they couldn’t be more accommodating, really an excellent approach is being adopted.

I’m hoping to come back bronzed and beautiful, well at least one them and of course well rested.

Last week was quite difficult for the markets with increased volatility towards the end of the week so it was with some trepidation that view the markets yesterday however it’s been positive news so far helped in no small part by the US and China holding talks over their so-called “phase-one” trade deal after the discussion was delayed earlier this month.

Both sides saw progress and are committed to the agreement, they’ve said.  The negotiation had been expected to take place on 15 August but were postponed by President Donald Trump when in at an election campaign speech earlier this month, He said: “I don’t want to talk to China right now.”

But now as President Trump heads into a week of the Republican National Convention, he wants the talks, as striking a deal with China on long-standing issues makes for good headlines, allowing him to say that only the Trump administration can get Beijing to the table.

The pressure on Chinese companies from Washington has also come at a time when President Trump wants to show that he is tough on China – in contrast to ‘Beijing Biden’, as he and his supporters have called Joe Biden, who they say if elected would be softer on China than Mr Trump.

Beijing is watching all of this political theatre, in which it has become the central character, carefully – keeping cards close to its chest.

It just goes to show that despite Covid-19, that the real drivers of the markets are the US and China and between now and November the presidential election will be all important.

In other US news the Food and Drug Administration approved “emergency use authorization” on Sunday for convalescent plasma as a treatment for coronavirus. Trump is also reportedly considering a similar move to fast-track AstraZeneca’s potential coronavirus vaccine to make it available before November’s election. White House officials had previously complained politically motivated delays by the FDA in approving a vaccine and treatments were threatening Trump’s re-election chances.

Trump’s aggressive stance and the positive medical developments helped global stocks move higher. AstraZeneca (AZN.L) was among the biggest risers on the FTSE 100, climbing 4.2%.

In the UK, BT stocks led the way, as the British telecoms giants reportedly bolstered its defences against a potential takeover bid, and the index’s major oil companies also contributed to the gains, as rising oil prices boosted BP and Royal Dutch Shell.

The ongoing Brexit talks and negative sentiment had dragged the FTSE down at the end of last week but yet again the market has moved on, it has come to expect these negative statements at the end of each session of talks with the EU once again communicating there is little hope of agreement before the deadline.

Elsewhere in Europe, German business morale improved more than expected in August as both manufacturing and services picked up steam, a survey showed on Tuesday, boosting hopes that Europe’s largest economy is set for a strong recovery following the massive coronavirus shock.

“The German economy is on the road to recovery,” Ifo President Clemens Fuest said in a statement, adding that firms assessed their current business situation much more optimistically than in the previous month.

Although there is still huge global concern about the virus and second and third waves, the rest of the world is moving forward and learning to live with the pandemic from an economic perspective.

The long-term view from most market analysts is positive and although bumps in the road are expected it’s not all doom and gloom as is often reported.

At home the pressure is ramping up on the government’s, the UK government faces challenges on getting people back to work, Brexit, the economy, the Scottish government face similar challenge and gave the added distraction of the review of the Salmond case as well as growing clamour inside the SNP for another independence vote, in Wales the devolved government is under continuing pressure regarding jobs and in Ireland it’s more of the same.

Between now and the end of the year government face huge challenges and it will be well into 2021 before we know just how these have been met.

From the glorious sunshine, stay safe