Immediately after UK General Election results were announced last month, the market valuation of Britain’s leading companies rose by nearly £50 Billion: a paper increase big enough to give £830 to every man, woman, and child in the country. And despite clear evidence that the UK economy is continuing to slow down (turning in 0% growth for the final quarter of a sluggish year), the FTSE 100 index closed 165 points up at 7,519.05 on the first morning of Boris Johnson’s new government: at one point having risen 190 points, its biggest single rise since the Brexit Referendum in June 2016. All this despite a general strengthening of sterling (since accommodated), which generally depresses profits for most FTSE 100 listed Companies.
It’s not hard to find reasons for this seemingly irrational surge: as soon as Boris took back the keys to Downing Street we knew for sure Brexit would happen, hopefully in orderly fashion with the benefit of a landslide victory; the threat of widespread nationalisation was removed at a stroke after Labour’s worst election result since 1934 and, to top it all, the trade war between China and the United States showed signs of pacifying: both countries more or less committing to rolling back protectionist measures and the US Trade Representative, Robert Lighthizer going so far as suggesting an interim trade deal had already been “totally done”. Expect a bounce in export figures if Mr. Lighthizer’s President and Congress are on the same page.
But of course, it’s not all about Beijing and Brexit…
Indian Markets have been bouncing along nicely too, with the NSE Nifty 50 Index rising to another high on 18 December: ending the session with a 56.65 point gain at 12,221.65 and since going on to close on 26 December at 2,126.55 (after widely anticipated pre-Christmas profit taking). Shares in Indian Metals, Automobiles, and IT companies have been particularly strong performers. In the week to 18 December the Nifty Metal Index rose by 0.8%, NiftyIT rose by 0.47% and shares in JSW Steel went up by 2.07%, a sure sign of continuing resilience in the subcontinent’s housing and construction sectors.
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I hope you all had a good Christmas but now that 2020 is finally with us, its time to roll up our sleeves and get back to work. Like the rest of us, I’m looking forward to seeing what the new year will bring but if its anything like the final quarter of 2019 we can expect markets to rise further on the back of increased Brexit certainties and (hopefully) increasing pacification of the US Sino Trade War.
But as the article rightly says, it’s not all about Beijing and Brexit: India’s economy continues to show marked resilience in the face of well-publicised recent difficulties, with the Nifty Index now standing at a post-election high (just like its London counterpart).
And I was especially struck to see shares in Indian Metals running so hot at the moment, reflecting a continuing strengthening in the subcontinent’s real estate markets. That’s an area I’ll be watching with particular interest.