Market Update – 27 Oct 2020

Trick or Treat?

I’ve never been a fan of Halloween to be honest, so the news that it was cancelled didn’t really concern me.  I’ve always felt it was a commercial holiday and in a week where the news has been dominated by hungry kids I didn’t think it was that important.

Hungry kids in the UK in 2020, just what has happened to our society?

For those of you who know my background,  you will know that issues with children are button pushers for me, we stopped being foster carers 3 years ago and now I don’t do enough for those less fortunate than me.

I don’t comment on politics, as it can create division and I don’t want to force my views on anyone, my observation however would be that in the last week hungry kids have been politicised, sides have been taken and arguments held over how to solve the problem, cheap point scoring has been the name of the game and the issue has almost become secondary.

It has taken an exceptional young man, who happens to have experienced the issue personally, who isn’t embarrassed to share his story and who just happens to be a famous footballer, to use his platform and voice to publicise and society has responded.

In Scotland, the government are already providing and have extended the school dinners through holidays approach but I still find it difficult to accept that I live in a society, in 2020,  that has kids going hungry, no child should be asking ‘ please sir can I have some more’, that’s a Dickens novel.

Halloween – My housing estate is holding a pumpkin trail to celebrate, with sweeties as the prize for the local kids, all houses were asked to get involved – pumpkin in the window that sort of thing – I’m abstaining- instead I’ll donate a trolley of shopping to my local food bank.

As I climb down off my soap box, I’ll be honest and say the markets seem slightly less relevant this week but volatility is high, markets are contracting as concerns about worsening Covid-19.

The FTSE 100 is set for a steady session today after yesterday’s sharp sell-off with blockbuster profits from HSBC calming nerves but traders warned fears over the spread of Covid-19, a further tumble in the oil price or bad news on the Brexit negotiations could trigger more big falls.

The Standard & Poors Index had its biggest fall in four weeks with a loss of nearly 2% yesterday, while the Dow Jones industrial average closed last night down 2.3%. Those heavy falls by the closing bell came after London shares ended down 1.2% and have triggered huge jitters on the global markets.

The good news on banking dividends from HSBC was that they were looking to pay a “conservative” dividend in 2020 after its profits beat forecasts. The issue is a huge one for investors after UK regulators ordered banks not to pay divis until the Covid crisis was over. Barclays issued knockout profit numbers last week, and with HSBC’s figures today, there seems increasingly little point forcing banks to alienate their investors.  The Prudential Regulation Authority’s reasoning for the divi ban was that banks needed to keep plenty of capital aside for the pandemic recession.

Brent crude oil  fell more than 3% at one stage yesterday as fears of weak demand from Covid-crippled countries combined with a ceasefire in big producer Libya, which was expected to result in the market being flooded with more cheap crude.

Hopes of a $1trillion-plus Covid stimulus deal before the US election are fading, adding to the downward pressure.

The US elections are adding more uncertainty to markets, with JPMorgan saying a Trump victory would trigger a 12.5% boost to US shares, while a Biden win would be mostly neutral.    Copper prices, and shares in copper producers, were expected to keep rising as a Joe Biden victory in the US presidential elections looked increasingly likely.  Biden has pledged to spend heavily on green energy if he were to win the presidency, which would be good for producers of the metal, heavily used in electricity cabling and other equipment.

As well as seeing market excitement hot up ahead of the US elections, this week sees big announcements on interest rates and other monetary policies from the European Central Bank and Bank of Japan, as well as US GDP figures which could sway some undecided voters. All three events happen on Thursday.

Brexit will remain in focus, with investors hoping for good news on the trade talks with the EU.

So lots happening this week and the market is bumpy, so will it be trick or treat,  time will tell.

Stay safe