Market Update – 18th August 2020.

This time last week we thought we would be giving you an update on the progress of the US/China trade tensions following the Phase 1 review over the weekend and potentially something on a new US virus relief stimulus package.

Unfortunately, as we reported in our Weekly Market Summary (please see here) the US/China Phase 1 trade review has been postponed, while talks between Republicans and Democrats remain in stalemate – and as a consequence, we now wouldn’t be surprised if there isn’t a resolution on either of these issues until after the US elections in November.

However, it was pleasing to see that global equity markets took this uncertainty in its stride.  For example, the FTSE-100 closed yesterday (17 August 2020) up 37.4 points, or 0.61%, while on Wall Street, although the Dow Jones closed 86 points lower (-0.31%), the broader S&P 500 index rose 0.27%.

Although this relaxed attitude may appear bemusing (and would probably have been unthinkable just a few months ago), today, equity markets are being supported by positive economic data (such as last week’s US jobless claims and retail sales data), better than expected company profits and accommodative central bank policies, not to mention the potential for a coronavirus vaccine as both the University of Oxford & AstraZeneca’s vaccine and Moderna’s vaccine are in Phase 3 trials (i.e. testing to assess effectiveness and safety).

It is a very quiet day for economic data, with no announcements in the UK or the Eurozone, while US data covers housing starts and building permits.  Although on the surface this US data may not appear important, we will be looking at it closely as we use it for an indication of confidence – as with the UK, US housing is important as it has a profound effect on the wider economy as it can improve confidence, encourage consumer spending, contribute to economic output and create jobs, etc.

Investment Management