Market Outlook – 1 September 2020

After all global stockmarkets bottomed in March, there was a broad based recovery in April, May and June but since July there has been a strong divergence between technology, or ‘virtual economy’ shares and ‘real economy’ shares.

The difference between the tech dominated US S&P 500 index and the bank and energy dominated UK FTSE 100 index over the past 3 months has been stark, with the S&P up 7% and the FTSE 100 down 1%.

The most popular technology shares have set new all time highs: this is mostly due to the reality of the ‘digital acceleration’ of the world economy, and partly due to the expectation that interest rates will continue to remain very low for a long time, even if inflation starts to take off. Because technology shares don’t tend to pay a dividend income to investors (because any spare cash is being re-invested for growth) there is a lower opportunity cost to holding technology shares, as opposed to cash, when there is no, or very little, interest available on cash.

Looking ahead to the autumn, there has to be hope that the ‘real economy’ will start to get back to normal and so benefit companies operating in that sector but we don’t expect the recent digital acceleration to be reversed. Areas that we expect to continue to struggle are real estate, oil & gas, and finance.

Real estate will likely remain under severe pressure for the foreseeable future as companies allow staff to continue to work from home, meaning not only that offices are empty but all the shops and services that supply office workers suffer badly too.

The oil price has stagnated at a level below which it is profitable for nearly all OPEC members to extract it, despite all members agreeing to cut production significantly. This is good for the wider economy but there would appear little respite on the horizon for companies operating in the oil & gas sector, due to travel being much reduced across the world, including the collapse in demand for aviation fuel, which is the most profitable element for oil refiners.

Banks find it very hard to make money in a low interest rate environment as the opportunity for them to make money on the ‘spread’ between what they pay out in interest to savers and what they charge borrowers to lend to them, reduces.  Added to this, they can expect to see bad debts rise as the various global government support schemes end.

This article is issued by Portland Financial Management Limited which is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Nothing in this article should be deemed to constitute the provision of financial, investment or other professional advice in any way. Past performance is not a guide to future performance. The value of an investment and the income from it may go down as well as up and investors may not get back the amount originally invested. This article may include forward-looking statements that are based upon our current opinions, expectations and projections. We undertake no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements. Actual results could differ materially from those anticipated in the forward-looking statements.