Advisory Investment Service | Ravenscroft Group | Ravenscroft
03 Aug 20

Weekly update - All on my own

ISOLATION – An easy word to understand while boarded up in the family home after a trip to the UK. Needless to say, as I strain my 100th tea bag into the appropriated kitchen bin which is now situated in the spare bedroom, careful not to see a dreaded drip fall onto the cream carpet, my nonchalance about how easy and pleasant it would be to spend 14 days and nights away from family, friends and work colleagues has worn off. As a very British past-time, making numerous cups of tea has formed part of my daily ritual, along with ‘prison’ style circuit workouts and cold food straight from the mini fridge. I am pleasantly surprised that week one has flown by and thankfully no coronavirus symptoms have reared their head...thus far. The gravity of the situation is hard to miss, and sticking to the rules for the sake of the hard work of fellow islanders earlier on in the year is not a hard task, but one which those UK residents now returning from Spain will quickly have to grasp.

While in the UK, it was eye opening to see the disparity of the masses’ response to coronavirus, particularly in the wake of Boris’ so called mandatory face mask wearing. No more so was this evidenced by the differing response in retail. As I strolled down Oxford Street, I was pleasantly reminded of how it feels to be in a crowd of people, as they continued to pour in and out of favourites like Nike, Apple & Uniqlo. Meanwhile Bond Street looked like a ghost town in comparison, and I began to fear for luxury brand sales, but was reminded that high footfall is not the name of the game for high-end luxury. It was a strange atmosphere being back in the UK and not wholly palatable, but the attitude is improving, and there seems a general sense of things returning to the ‘new’ normal as the population adapts. Of course, this weekend’s news from the north of England may change that as areas go back into local lockdown.

GBP/USD chart 4th August 2019 - 3rd August 2020 (Source: Bloomberg)

It would be remiss of me not to mention what’s moving markets, in particular the weak dollar as the GBP/USD exchange stands at 1.3072 (having touched USD highs of 1.1487 against the pound in mid-March), meaning more dollars for my British pound or less pound for my dollars, depending on how you see it. This has affected the domestic market with the FTSE-100 touching below 5900 points, but surely a strong pound would be good for UK-listed companies? I am reminded that a number of the index are made up by dollar-denominated earners, and a weak dollar therefore hurts their revenue streams.

While on the subject of indexes, there was an interesting fact that drew my eye over the weekend.

The five leading US-listed technology stocks, Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet, Facebook and Amazon now make up one fifth of the entire S&P 500 index. Oh how the mighty have fallen, with traditional industry and oil-led stocks now dwarfed by the adoption of tech in our work and personal lives. To put this into perspective, those five US-listed tech companies would vastly outweigh the entire FTSE-100 by some margin, in fact it would only take two of them to achieve that task.

Another market mover that is being watched in earnest by the world’s population is the progress being made with a coronavirus vaccine. News flow from the weekend was that the US has given the Sanofi/GlaxoSmithKline alliance $2.1bn to secure a pipeline of 100 million doses. This follows on from the UK securing 60 million doses from the alliance, and the EU now negotiating collectively for up to 300 million doses. If healthcare was not already in the mind of the investor as a long term trend, it certainly should be now.

As we look into next week and a further sign that life continues to become the new normal, there is sport galore as England take on Pakistan in the cricket at Emirates Old Trafford, the PGA Championship gets underway and the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix sees F1 return to Silverstone for the second time in two weeks - yesterday’s race saw an exciting finish with Lewis Hamilton managing to keep control of his car after a punctured tyre to take the chequered flag.

What a delight it is to have the joys of live sport again!

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