Hopefully you enjoyed a good summer break. August was another positive month for many financial markets, with one pan-European (including the U.K.) index achieving a seventh consecutive advance. Whilst 2021 started with material concerns about COVID-19 challenges, limited vaccination numbers and widespread lockdowns, progress has been made on all fronts. No doubt the late August news that seven further countries have been added to the U.K.’s green travel rules, will further boost hopes that a return to previous norms are closer.
For most investors focused on the U.K., Europe and/or the United States, July was far from an unattractive month in all but a minority of equity sectors. This pleasingly allowed a further building of year-to-date returns. Meanwhile bond market yields generally tightened further. Although fixed income markets remain on average dull performers in 2021, performance has improved in recent months.
Americans, bored in their COVID-induced ‘bubbles,’ turned to board games for fun last year, boosting sales 300%. They rolled the dice, drew the cards, and buffed the skills of cooperation, problem solving, emotional intelligence, and reflective logic — the same competencies critical to successful investment strategies. So, we couldn’t help looking back nostalgically to our favourite games — and probably yours — as we look forward to crafting a sustainable investment game plan.
The fifth month of 2021 will not go down as an important month for global investors. Most equity and bond market investors made some positive – but relatively modest – gains during May. And whilst COVID-19 vaccination progress across many countries has been notable over recent weeks, the general economic outlook across the U.K., United States and Europe has recently improved. Certainly underlying confidence for the rest of this year and into 2022 has improved over recent weeks.
April was another interesting month, with gains across almost all global stock markets led by the United States, but closely followed by the U.K. and Europe. Whilst the former two were significantly aided by continued COVID-19 vaccine progress and associated national reopening, Europe has started to make some progress too.
Sixty years ago, Marshall Nirenberg and Henrich Matthaei began the process of cracking the genetic code. Thanks to their persistence and resilience, today’s scientists developed effective mRNA-based vaccines in record time – saving millions of lives from COVID-19. With the darkest days of the pandemic behind us, investors can also appreciate the resilience of the economy and financial markets and the hopeful prospect of brighter days ahead.
It is less than a year since Rishi Sunak presented his first Budget, after having been in the role of Chancellor for less than a month. His despatch box première featured an allocation of £12bn towards mitigating the impact of the Covid-19. Ironically, on the same day as Mr Sunak revealed that boost to spending, the World Health Organisation declared the outbreak a pandemic. Total expenditure in the U.K. on dealing with the pandemic is now estimated to be around £300bn.
The first month of a new year ended as a disappointment for the average U.K. investor, especially as a contrast to the widespread excitable returns seen in the last two months of 2020. However, the month of January alone rarely gives us every answer and the unique nature of both the U.K. market alone and collectively the entire world has a wide range of potential outcomes.
We wish you a safe, healthy, and prosperous New Year! These words are even more meaningful given the most deadly and economically crippling ‘Black Swan’ event that we have experienced in the last century—COVID-19. After unprecedented fiscal and monetary stimulus, the record-setting development of multiple effective vaccines has elevated optimism that we will experience the ‘thrill of victory’ over this nemesis in the upcoming year.