Market Commentary 2021

26th November 2021

Covid variant from South Africa sparks risk off move

The emergence of a new variant of Coronavirus has caused a risk off move in global equities today as the prospect of a vaccine immune strain causes markets to reassess risk sentiment. Whilst news is just emerging of the variant from South Africa, there are concerns that it may be resistant to vaccines and general immunity and could further the need to lock down economies. The UK and Europe opened sharply lower, with losses in the 2% to 3% region in flagship, large company indexes, whilst government debt, seen as a safe haven in times of market stress, was being bought and was up over 1% in the UK. Gold was also being bought to reinforce defensive elements of portfolios, rising over 1%, whilst commodities such as oil were down as much as 5% as the prospect of potential shocks to travel and general consumption rose higher. Whilst the moves may be seen as a knee jerk reaction to early stage news, the reaction highlights how all time markets can see short term set backs.

22nd November 2021

Powell reappointed as FED chair

President Joe Biden has chosen to reappoint Jay Powell as the chairman of the Federal Reserve for a second term. It was Biden’s belief that Powell has the experience and capability to continue to steer the economy into lower inflation and fuller employment without derailing the economic recovery with excessive monetary intervention. Powell had strong bi-partisan support from both sides of the aisle and remained favourite to take the job again. Lael Brainard who was the contender for the position has now been appointed to the FED vice chair position.

17th November 2021

UK Inflation rises to highest level since 2011

There is increased pressure for the Bank of England to raise rates as inflation surges to its decade high. The annual rate of the consumer price index rose to 4.2% last month, up from 3.1% and the fastest pace since November 2011. Inflation rose to more than the BoE’s 2% target and was considerably higher than economists’ 3.9% forecast. This rising inflation has been a result of continued surging household energy bills and increased costs for fuel and second-hand cars. Prices for restaurants and hotels have risen too. All of this points towards the Bank of England and specifically Andrew Bailey: these inflated numbers may seal his decision next month to raise rates after his choice – to the surprise of many – to not hike interest rates at this month’s meeting.

10th November 2021

U.S Y/Y CPI rises most since 1990

Pernicious bottlenecks and other supply-chain disruptions intensifying has allowed inflationary pressure to spread further throughout the economy, causing the US Consumer Price Index (CPI) to rise to 6.2%. This 6.2% rise from a year ago is the fastest annual pace since 1990 and is a dramatic increase from September's levels of 5.4%. While in some areas prices have moderated – like used cars and travel expenses – prices have been ramping up elsewhere. Rents and other shelter-related costs, which represent around one third of the CPI, have steadily risen in recent months, and services have become more expensive as employers battle with severe worker shortages. The data reinforces the view that inflation is more persistent than initially anticipated, and it will ask questions of the Fed, who still believe inflation is `transitory`. Short-dated US government bond yields rose upon news of the CPI jump, and inflation hedges such as gold and Bitcoin took positively to the news.

4th November 2021

Bank of England vote to keep rates on hold

The Bank of England has, in a surprise move, voted not to raise interest rates in the UK. This dovish tilt was very much contra to market expectations in which investors had all but nailed on a 0.25% rate rise today. The overarching conclusion from the central bank was inflation was indeed moving well past their upper bound of 2% but the economic slowdown and falls in household incomes would act as a natural inflation pull down without the need for a rate hike. The BoE did add in that rates would have to rise at some point in 2022 and perhaps even in 2021 so all eyes are now on the December meeting.

4th November 2021

US FED announces start to tapering QE bond purchases

The Federal Reserve bank in the US announced yesterday its intention to begin the much anticipated reduction of their QE stimulus package. The $120 billion a month bond purchase programme which was put in place to bolster the market through the COVID pandemic has been a widely and hotly debated topic in markets and yesterday’s announcement was well expected. Predictably this announcement was largely priced into the market but the accompanying commentary from FED chair Jay Powell about the US economy remaining uncertain and therefore not needing any rate hikes was taken positively and thus boosted US equity markets into the close.

28th October 2021

ECB unmoved amid rapidly rising inflation

The European Central Bank edged itself away from the Bank of England & US Federal Reserve who have begun to prepare investors for tighter monetary policy. The two-day ECB meeting heavily focused on the high inflation data which ECB President Christine Lagarde suggested would increase further and last longer than expected. However, their analysis still did not lead to a projected rise of interest rates next year, in the belief that eurozone inflation will ease below their 2% target in the medium term.

27th October 2021

Growth upgrade gives Sunak cushion

The Office for Budget Responsibility forecast that the UK economy would settle 2% below pre-pandemic levels, rather than the 3% projected in March, implying a reduced long-term impact from COVID. These improved forecasts gave Rishi Sunak a £35bn windfall to work with, which he has split up between public borrowing, higher spending on public services and tax cuts in areas like business rates and alcohol duties. However, as with all Budgets, there were some niggles, with one coming in the form of the proposed highest tax burden since the post-war period at 36.2% of GDP. Although the FTSE All-Share was less affected, UK markets on the whole took growth news positively with gilts having their largest one-day rally since March.

20th October 2021

UK CPI Inflation stalls in September, PPI rises

Supply chain pressures exerted by a combination of Brexit and the pandemic have increased producers' prices, with the measure (PPI) rising from 6% to 6.7% for September, showing that upward pressure is continuing to build. This comes as companies report an increase in price of inputs of 11.4% over the to end of September, rising from 11.2% the previous month. Whilst the PPI measure increased, the consumer price index (CPI) slowed from 3.2% year on year to 3.1%, though is thought to be attributable to last year`s `eat out to help out` scheme still being present in the data which contributes to a low base, offsetting rises in other prices such as energy, autos and most other costs of living. This is a continuation of trends widely expected by markets for the time being and there was little change in UK related assets, though government debt weakened marginally, whilst the currency held steady.

13th October 2021

US Inflation tops 5% in September, markets unfazed

Inflation in the US has continued to rise since May this year, reaching 5.4% in September (year on year), data out today confirmed. This marginally exceeded economists' expectations of a 5.3% annual figure. As market expectations that the US Federal Reserve will begin tapering its asset purchase program have increased in recent months, markets were unfazed by the data which will be seen as confirmation of this trajectory. Inflation seems to be becoming 'stickier' as price increases become broader based, affecting a raft of things such as rents, cars, everyday goods and energy. The higher inflation numbers will also add weight to the idea of interest rate hikes in the short to medium term, which the US central bank has already begun signalling in its guidance. Despite the data release, US markets for equities and bonds both rallied on the day and were little changed by the inflation numbers, as was the US dollar.

12th October 2021

IMF trims global growth forecast

In its World Economic Outlook, the IMF trimmed its 2021 global growth forecast to 5.9% from its 6.0% forecast it made in July. Although seemingly modest, the IMF said in their report that this masks their outlook for low-income developing countries, which has darkened considerably due to worsening pandemic dynamics. It also said that the trim in forecast reflects the IMF's worry that supply bottlenecks will continue to halt post-pandemic recovery. Although they stated that overall economic recovery was too strong to bring up talks of stagflation, they believed that the global economy has entered a phase of inflationary risk and has warned central banks to act sooner rather than later if supply disruptions and pricing pressure continue.

8th October 2021

U.S jobs growth disappoints again

The figures that came from the October non-farm payrolls showed that the US has stalled on job growth for a second month in a row. Although the unemployment rate dropped to 4.8% from 5.2%, the world's largest economy added just 194,000 jobs in September, which was 366,000 below economists' 500,000 estimate. There was a resurgence in the Hospitality and Leisure Sector which took a tumble in August, however public education numbers dropped by 161,000, with the working from home model that arose from the pandemic still proving to be popular amongst all sectors. Wage growth increased by 19 cents to an average of $30.85 dollars/hour, further suggesting the continued rising demand for labour as a result of pandemic recovery has driven wages higher. Overall, this jobs data is major fuel for the tapering debate fire, and the view that Jay Powell can't scale back on enormous monetary stimulus soon seems the more tenable point of view, for the moment.

5th October 2021

Facebook leads a tech sell-off

Tech stocks continued their descent from lofty highs on Monday pulling the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 towards correction territory (correction defined as 10% drop from all-time highs). Expectations of Fed tapering and inflation pressure from supply shortages has sent the US treasury yield sharply higher. High growth tech stocks, which had served as a haven for investors throughout the coronavirus pandemic, are particularly sensitive to interest rates given their valuations rely on profits many years in the future. Facebook particularly suffered and was among the five worst-performing stocks on the S&P 500 after a whistle-blower alleged that the company does little to stop the spread of hateful content on its platform. This was then compounded by its' Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook services suffering global outages.

30th September 2021

UK GDP beats expectations in Q2

The UK in Q2 posted GDP growth of 5.5% which came in over analysts’ expectations of a 4.8%. This was taken as a positive sign that the economy in the UK remained in better shape than many had expected and is now only 3.3% lower than the pre pandemic GDP print. This data is a quarter old and many in the market are focusing on the Q3 numbers which are penned to be lower than Q2. Conversely, many also believe that Q4 should be better than this as we run into Christmas and consumer spending and confidence takes a leg higher. With UK furlough set to end in October there are questions about the 1.6m employees who might be about to enter the labour market, or not at all as some are fearing which might affect the economic picture in the UK for 2022.

24th September 2021

China makes waves: Evergrande crisis and crypto ban loom

Global equity markets were shaken on Monday after it came to light that mammoth Chinese property developer, Evergrande, who is carrying debt worth £222 bn, may have to default on a £62 m interest payment on bonds it has issued. The payment was confirmed to have been missed on Thursday, leading to a 30 day grace period where the payment must be settled before a default is declared. A default on that scale has implications for the stability of China's markets and economy and risks contagion to the wider financial world. Today, China has also announced a blanket ban on all Cryptocurrency transactions, creating further waves that has put renewed pressure on the price of cryptocurrencies. Global equity markets fell around 1.5% to 3% on Monday, but have since clawed back much of the losses. Bitcoin fell around 6% on the news of a ban in China and remains highly volatile as is usually the case with such highly speculative assets.

23rd September 2021

The First of Many? Norway raises rates

Norway has become the first major European country to increase interest rates, with a hike bringing the rate from zero to 0.25%. The Norwegian central bank has also said it plans to raise rates further to 0.5% in December, and three more times in 2020 to an expected rate of 1.25%. Reasons given were the continued economic recovery in Norway, and more broadly across the continent, but also the desire to begin the gradual normalization of monitory policy in general. The move is perhaps signalling the shape of things to come across the continent, particularly if inflation is not as transitory as the European Central bank currently theorizes. The hike strengthened the Norwegian Crown, as buyers came in to take advantage of higher rates, and with expectations of higher rates next year also acting as a tailwind for the currency

23rd September 2021

Bank of England holds rates, expects inflation to top 4%

Today the Bank of England held interest rates at 0.1% whilst stating they expect inflation to run high at around 4% over the winter period, exacerbated by elevated natural gas prices, worker shortages and global supply chain issues. They also said they intend to maintain the current level of bond purchases. There was, however, an increasing number on the Monetary Policy Committee that are calling for the beginning of tapering of bond purchases showing that pressure will be growing for action to be taken to reduce this in the coming months, much in line with how the US Federal Reserve has been signalling. UK equities were essentially flat on the news, while Sterling strengthened on the news as expectations of higher rates in the near-to-medium term increased, pushing the currency-sensitive large cap FTSE 100 index down marginally. UK government debt fell to its lowest in about 4 months.

22nd September 2021

Fed holds rates, but signals tapering in near-term

Whilst keeping interest rates at historic lows, the US Federal Reserve has signaled it is likely to announce tapering of its bond purchases in the coming months, much in line with market expectations. The US central bank has also indicated there may be interest rate hikes sooner than was previously thought, with some FOMC members flagging the first rate hike in 2022, though the timing of `lift off` is still being seen by most Fed members as occurring in 2023. Strong employment numbers, the continued economic recovery and inflation running around 3-4% are behind the sentiments, though markets have reacted positively showing that there were no material surprises from this Fed announcement. US government debt was little changed, while US equities rallied after a notable risk-off sentiment earlier in the week stemming from worries over the stability of China's debt-laden property companies such as Evergrande.

14th September 2021

UK sees record job vacancies as payrolls recover

Job vacancies are at a record high, with UK payrolls reaching levels seen before the global pandemic, underlining a strong job market. Over a million vacancies were seen in the three months up to August as the economy progressed further towards full reopening. Unemployment was down to 4.6% up to July and showed a trend of falling unemployment over the summer. This however, is offset by the fact the size of the overall labour market has fallen, meaning there could be significant labour shortages in the coming months as the size of the workforce may fail to meet demand from employers, which may lead to wage inflation. UK equities were mixed on the news, with the FTSE 100 negatively impacted by sterling rising on the strong jobs data, whilst the medium sized company index, the FTSE 250, rallied modestly. UK government debt fell as the Pound rose higher.

3rd Sep 2021

U.S. jobs underperform even lowest estimates

August's non-farm payrolls showed just 235,000 jobs had been added in the U.S. for the month, down from 943,000 the month prior and 500,000 below estimates. The disappointing data has almost entirely been attributed to Delta variant concerns with the leisure and hospitality sector registering no new jobs while the number of American workers working from home increased. The unemployment rate did still tick down from 5.4% to 5.2% as the record high demand for workers managed to keep the labour market recovery going. Wall Street opened lower as investors attempted to weigh the strength of the U.S. recovery and how the data release affects the Federal Reserve's next policy move.

27th August 2021

Fed Chair Jerome Powell signals 2021 taper

Speaking at the Federal Reserve's annual Jackson Hole policy symposium, Powell kept to the central bank's message that the recent bout of inflation has been largely caused by transitory factors such as supply chain disruptions. However, although he did not provide a specific timeline, Powell did suggest the $120 billion monthly asset purchase programme, designed to drag the economy out of the covid-induced recession, will be scaled back this year. The announcement provided a relatively balanced view amid a growing hawkish faction within the Federal Open Market Committee which sent US stocks to all time highs with treasuries also rallying.

18th August 2021

UK inflation slows in July

UK inflation slowed faster than expected in July at an annualised rate of 2% which was smaller than the 2.5% inflation print in June and smaller than the 2.1% inflation which was expected for July. Main areas where inflation slowed were in consumer goods such as clothing and recreational goods. This was however offset by second-hand car inflation which surged 14% year on year against the backdrop of semiconductor shortages which have hampered the supply of new cars. Forecasts are for inflation to begin to creep higher again in Q3 and Q4 of 2021 which remains down to supply side bottle necks remaining in the economy and the global economy.

6th August 2021

July jobs report a strong sign for U.S economy

The U.S. economy continues to show signs of recovery by beating analyst expectations to the largest jobs number since last August. The strong reading meant that 75% of the jobs lost to the pandemic had now been recovered, trimming the unemployment rate to 5.4 per cent. Gains were shared across most sectors but leisure, education and services were the standouts with a notable rise in restaurant hires signalling the reopening is, so far, shaking off delta variant concerns. Wages also continued their steady rise on the back of recent labour shortages and record vacancies. The overriding narrative remains whether the positive data will force the Federal Reserve to slowly cull its stimulus, with investors paying even closer attention ahead of the Jackson Hole policy symposium at the end of August. However, potential concerns were not reflected in markets as the S&P 500 shot to a record high in early trading.

5th August 2021

Bank of England discuss ‘modest' policy tightening

The BoE's latest monetary policy report forecasts slightly slower 2021 growth with the Q4 2021 inflation forecast raised significantly, to double the 2% target. The monetary policy committee then predict the data dropping to 3.3% in Q3 2022, a 1.1% increase on May projections. Despite no imminent changes in stimulus, as widely expected, there was a slightly hawkish change in tone as a result, with the narrative shifting to suggest 'some modest tightening of monetary policy over the forecast period was likely to be necessary to be consistent with meeting the inflation target sustainably in the medium term'. This will of course be subject to the strength of future growth and inflation data, and markets were largely unperturbed with small upward movements in the pound and gilt yields (yields move opposite to prices).

30th July 2021

US Economy grows 6.2% in Q2

The US economy grew in the second quarter at an annualised rate of 6.2% which, whilst very good, was below consensus of 8.5% from economists. The drag seemed to be coming from businesses supply bottlenecks caused by shipping delays and chip shortages which hampered retailer’s ability to restock shelves to meet the rampant demand from consumers. This news then is a positive in that yes growth disappointed but the consumer and their desire to spend looks healthy and when retailers can find a solution to these supply issues we should be able to see GDP expansion hit its targets.

14th July 2021

UK inflation rises to 2.5% in June

UK annual inflation, measured by the Consumer Price Index, hit 2.5% in June which is the highest inflation number since August 2018. This sees a 0.4% rise compared to May and takes inflation comfortably above the Bank of England’s 2% target. Many of the biggest contributors were those rebounding from price falls 12 months previous, such as transport & petrol, food, clothing and eating & drinking. The data is again above analyst expectation and feeds into the emerging global narrative that inflation may be stickier than central bankers suggest. The pound rallied on the news as investors prophesied the BoE may raise rates, pulling the internationally focused FTSE 100 0.5% lower.

13th July 2021

US Inflation increases again in June.

The annual Consumer Price Index increased by 5.4% compared to one year prior, gaining another 0.4% compared to May. The data sees the largest increase in 13 years which was above what both economists and investors were expecting. A third of the increase was provided by the index for used cars and trucks which continued to increase at breakneck speed posting 10.5% price gains for the year following a global semiconductor shortage hitting the new car market. Although this price pressure is likely to fade, as are the initial inflationary effects of the economy reopening, the continuing price jumps dial up the pressure on the Federal Reserve who remain staunch believers that inflation will prove transitory. US futures turned lower on the news, as investors fear interest rate hikes may come sooner than expected, but the major indices were flat at the market open.

2nd July 2021

US economy powers on with 850,000 new jobs

Another US jobs beat today showed the US created 850,000 new jobs in the month of June, comfortably above consensus estimates from economists who expected about 720,000. Unemployment rose slightly, however, up from 5.8% to 5.9% of the working population which constitute 61.6% of the Americans according to the last jobs report. Wage growth picked up a little too with average hourly earnings reaching $30.40. Following waves made by recent Fed signalling that interest rates could rise sooner than previously expected, markets held quite steady on the news which seemed to support the recent narrative of a strong economy and the potential for inflationary pressures to be sustained above the central bank 2% target.

24th June 2021

Bank of England unperturbed by inflation data

The BoE's monetary policy committee voted unanimously to keep the target interest rate at a historic low of 0.1% whilst only outgoing Chief Economist Andy Haldane voted again to reduce the £875bn bond buying programme. The announcement came as a slightly dovish surprise, with recent upside shocks reported in GDP, inflation & employment data teamed with the Fed's announcement last week that they expect rates hikes to be needed sooner than previously thought, with two hikes expected in 2023. The BoE on the other hand offered no new updates on the timing of future rate hikes insisting the inflation surge is temporary. The FTSE 100 advanced 0.5% on the news, with investors encouraged by the unaltered outlook.

17th June 2021

US Fed brings rate hike forecast forward to 2023

As expected, US Federal Reserve voted on Wednesday the to keep interest rates near zero, but said they expect rates hikes to be needed sooner than previously thought, with two hikes seen in 2023. The Fed expects inflation to continue to run above 2% in 2021, but for the US economy to continue to strengthen towards maximum employment, one-to-two years out. Fed Chair Jerome Powell said that there is no change to the Fed's extensive asset purchase program for now, but that future meetings will focus on the ongoing need for this stimulus rather than rate hikes. With rate hikes expectations being brought forward, there is a general expectation that asset purchases would be tapered sooner than expected as well, however. Risk assets sold off on prospects that rate hikes could be brought forward, as did precious metals as the US dollar strengthened to month highs. US government debt sold off as the perceived cost of borrowing in the near-to-medium term increased.

16th June 2021

UK Inflation jumps to 2.1% ahead of expectations

UK Inflation jumped again in May to 2.1% ahead of economists’ expectations of just a 1.8% rise. This upside surprise follows on from the recent US inflation print which came in at 5%, a figure not seen in 13 years. Central banks however remain staunch advocates of this inflation surge being temporary and should revert when the global economy irons out some of the kinks in its supply chains as a result of the COVID shut downs.

10th June 2021

US inflation comes in hot

US inflation data today shows consumer prices rose 5% compared to May 2020, topping industry expectations to the highest increase since 2008. There were two noteworthy drivers of the figure: firstly, US energy prices were 28.5% higher than 12 months ago after a 56% rise in gasoline prices compared to the pandemic induced slump in May 2020. Secondly, a further 7.3% increase in the cost of used cars and trucks accounted for circa 1/3rd of the overall increase in CPI. Car suppliers have been hard hit by the shortage of semiconductors whilst stimulus checks drove consumer demand. Major US indices crept up in early trading as European stocks were broadly flat following the European Central Bank’s announcement that it will maintain its elevated bond buying.

4th June 2021

US adds 559,000 jobs in underwhelming monthly payrolls

Only one month after the extremely underwhelming non-farm payrolls report that saw the US only add 226,000 jobs, the May report has seen analyst expectations undershot yet again. Although the figure was much higher, at 559,000 new roles, which in normal times would be excellent, economists were predicting upwards of 650,000. It is worth noting the labour market still sits 7.6 million jobs below its pre-pandemic peak. Another weaker than expected payrolls number has seen investors relax slightly about any imminent Fed tightening which would be negative for the large US growth stocks. The US Dollar sold off on the news whilst the tech-heavy Nasdaq climbed.

3rd June 2021

UK service sector sees 24-year high growth

The UK Purchasing Managers Index at service firms reported the fastest increase in business activity for over two decades in May. The easing of restrictions earlier this month has fuelled resurgent consumer and business spending, which has pushed new orders to levels not seen since October 2013 as well as a piling up of work backlogs. The realisation of months of pent-up consumer demand is having two notable effects on the UK economy: Firstly, this increased business confidence and staff shortages has pulled employment growth to its strongest rate in six years as the rate of job creation continues to accelerate. Secondly, the increased activity has led UK businesses to raise prices at the fastest rate since survey records began in 1996, pouring more fuel on the growing inflation narrative. The UK’s FTSE 100 seemed unperturbed by the data in early trading, continuing a small pullback after a three-day positive streak.

12th May 2021

US inflation sees highest levels since 2008

US consumer prices rose 4.2% in April compared to 12 months ago, which is a significant increase from the 2.6% observed in the month prior. The report from the US Labor Department arrives amid a backdrop of growing concerns in investors on how inflation will impact their investments. Inflation is comfortably breaching the Federal Reserve's target of 2% which does little to allay fears it might need to raise interest rates. Off the back of the report, US stocks sold off. The Dow saw a 1.25% drop in midday trading whilst the tech-focused Nasdaq index shed 1.89% on the news following on from yesterday’s sell-off. Central Banks continue to play down the data as a temporary bounce upon economies reopening.

7th May 2021

US economy only added 266,000 new jobs in April

The US labour market added just 266,000 jobs in April in a big blow to hopes of a sharp recovery in employment. The figure, provided through US non-farm payrolls, was extremely underwhelming with 77 of 79 analyst estimates forecasting an uptick of over 800,000. The big picture is that non-farm employment across the US is still down by 8.2 million below its pre-pandemic level in February 2020 and consensus suggests the data will alleviate some of the pressure on the Federal Reserve to dial down its vast monetary support. Tech stocks led gains on the back of the news which eases mounting fears of higher inflation and stimulus reductions.

7th May 2021

Labour loose the deep blue Hartlepool by-election

In the UK by-elections today, Boris Johnsons Conservative government has secured a small but critical victory in the seat of Hartlepool which has been a staunch Labour seat since 1974. Whilst this is just one of the by-elections in the UK today, the loss of such an ardent Labour seat is a worrying harbinger of further losses for the Labour government across the country. With many working class parts of the country continuing to side with Johnsons Conservatives it would appear the Labour movement has a mountain to climb if its to get back into competition with the Conservative party. More to follow ….

29th April 2021

Federal Reserve a ‘long way’ from reducing stimulus

Following a two-day meeting, Federal Reserve chair Jay Powell remained clear that the US Central Bank was not ready to discuss tapering their vast economic support, even after raising its expectations of the economic recovery. The Fed left its record low near-zero benchmark interest rate unchanged and pledged to continue $120 billion of asset purchases as it once again labelled growing inflation fears as largely ‘transitory’. The hard stance reflects a high bar for alterations in approach, signalling to investors unsustained bouts of inflation would be tolerated. The Nasdaq and S&P 500 ended the day 0.3 and 0.2% higher, respectively.

6th April 2021

US economy adds 916,000 jobs in March

Forecasts were again beaten as the US ramped up its hiring spree buoyed by falling coronavirus infection rates, continued Government support & a fast vaccine rollout. The largest gains were seen in hospitality & leisure as sentiment continues to gear towards a country-wide reopening. The positive data meant the unemployment rate edged down towards 6% but the economy is still shy of over 8.4 million pre-pandemic jobs. Fed Chair Jay Powell was optimistic on job creation in the coming months but warned it will still take some time to get back to maximum employment. U.S stocks climbed to record highs on Monday as investors looked extremely favourably on the highest growth in jobs since August 2020.

19th March 2021

Bank of England Hold the Line

The Bank of England has followed the US Federal Reserve in maintaining ultra-low interest rates amid upgraded forecasts for the UK economy. The Monetary Policy Committee voted unanimously to keep rates at 0.1% whilst maintaining the pace of its 2021 programme of creating money and buying government debt. The Bank said that UK 2021 growth is forecasted at 5% with the short-term outlook looking brighter buoyed by the Chancellor’s extension of COVID-19 support, a rapid vaccine rollout and Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus plan. However it stressed that the outlook for the UK remains ‘unusually uncertain’.

18th March 2021

Fed stay the course, but is it enough for markets?

Federal Reserve officials signalled that they expect to keep interest rates close to zero until at least 2024, as they look for the economy to reach full employment before changing stance. Even as the Fed upgraded its 2021 growth forecast to 6.5%, which would be the fastest expansion since 1984, they remain unperturbed in their stance that the economy requires vast support through ultra-easy monetary policy. Major US indices rallied on the news, pushing the Dow Jones Industrial Average to an all-time high. However, the Federal Reserve’s apparent willingness to keep pumping support into the economy and let it run hotter has spurred inflation fears, sending market expectations of price pressures to multiyear highs which investors expect to challenge the Fed’s resolve.

12th March 2021

US signs new stimulus package into law today

US Congress has cleared a 1.9 tn USD stimulus package which will see each American get a cheque for up to 1400 USD, unemployment benefits topped up and another 350 bn USD in local government aid and tax credits added to boost the US economy. The bill passed narrowly by 220 to 211 votes, with every Republican voting against the bill, though which will now be passed into law today. This has in part helped global risk assets recover from a period of heightened volatility, notably in highly valued US technology stocks as investor confidence in fiscal and monetary support for the US economy is strengthened. Meanwhile in fixed interest, US sovereign debt continues to sell off to new 1 year lows as expectations of inflation and an improving economic recover take hold. In the same way, UK government debt also approaches year lows in line with the expected global recovery.

5th March 2021

US employment in February surprisingly strong

US job creation in February came in at 379,000 jobs created which was a bumper result considering forecasts were at 198,000. The lion’s share of the gains came from the services sector showing improving signs that the US economy is well on the path to pulling out of the global pandemic. Markets reacted strongly to the upside on the news with investors believing that the jobs number was a good indicator for a higher equity market. However markets began to give back gains in later trading as investors believed this would be a further headwinds to growth and tech stocks in an inflationary environment.

14th February 2021

Trump escapes senate impeachment for the second time

Donald Trump, the first US president to be impeached twice and the first president to be impeached after his term has ended, was acquitted by the senate of officially inciting the insurrection on Capitol Hill in January. Impeachment needed 17 Republican senators to vote to impeach and only 10 voted in favour of impeachment meaning the case against the former president was dropped. Republican minority leader Mitch McConnell said Trump, whilst not legally responsible for the riot was morally responsible for it.

31st January 2021

EU try to implement hard boarder in Ireland

In an attempt to limit the movement of vaccines produced in Europe but contractually agreed to be delivered to the UK, the European Union threatened to implement border checks between Ireland and Northern Ireland. This move served to indicate the EU was, against their commitment to upholding the good Friday agreement, prepared to put a hard boarder in Ireland and wilfully disrupt the peace deal. The decision was a political back fire which was almost immediately reversed by the EU commission under intense global condemnation. The move has dramatically destabilised relations with the EU and the UK at a time when Brexit negotiations still remain ongoing.

5th February 2021

January’s US jobs report misses the mark

The US economy failed to meet expectations for job creation in January and added 49,000 roles which was below analysts’ forecasts. The more concerning number was the fall in unemployment to 6.3% which, in part, indicates more people who were previously unemployed have now registered themselves as no longer in the job market rather than trying to fund employment. The market rallied on the news as investors believe this will spur the US government to launch a larger stimulus package which could include $1,400 cheques to Americans.

14th January 2021

President Trump impeached for the second time

US President, Donald Trump, has been impeached for a second time, charged by the House of Representatives with “incitement to insurrection” following the riots by his supporters last week, who stormed the Capitol in a bid to overthrow November`s presidential election result. Trump is being charged with inciting the violent behaviour through issuing false statements about the election result and ultimately encouraging the violence which lead to five deaths. Mr Trump is the first president in history to be impeached twice, with the article of impeachment soon to be sent to the Senate, where the result of a trial could prevent Trump from running for office again in the future.

8th January 2021

US December job numbers fall by 140k

US Job creation in December missed expectations coming in with a pullback of 140,000 jobs. This has sparked fears the latest surge in COVID cases is beginning to have long term scaring effects on the largest economy in the world. Pleasingly retail and manufacturing were both sectors seeing positive job creation whereas the hospitality sector predictably saw the lion’s share of the losses with half a million people losing jobs in December. With the senate and the house in Democratic hands, this negative employment number paves the way for more US stimulus in the coming months.

7th January 2021

Biden confirmed as 46th president by Congress

US Congress have confirmed Joe Biden’s election victory. Despite pro Trump supporters storming Capitol Hill to disrupt the confirmation, the congressional event continued to press ahead. Trump, this morning has confirmed he will leave the White House in January in a peaceful manner. With the double congressional win in Georgia yesterday, Biden now controls both the house and the senate sparking speculation of another massive COVID stimulus package which has been rallying the markets despite the scenes in the US capital.