First day on FTSE 100 sets up for year of growth
If markets are starting as they mean to go on, 2017 could be a good one for the FTSE 100. A rise in cyclical mining and banking shares following upbeat Chinese economic data was responsible for the bulk of the gains. Shares of the UK’s biggest banks Barclays, Lloyds and RBS were top of the leader board whilst miners including Antofagasta and Glencore gained on expectation of improved commodity-demand from China.
Retailers including Next and Dixons Carphone fell to the bottom of the UK equity benchmark after indications of lower footfall at shopping centres across Britain. Footfall dropped 23.8% y/y across the UK according to Springboard Insights. The cold weather spell looks to have been the final straw for shoppers already tempted to shun the high street for the ease of online orders and big sales days before and after Christmas. Deep discounts led by Amazon on Black Friday as wells as the January Sales encourage a discount shopping culture that retailers can’t shake off.
Trump GM tax tweet doesn’t dent New Year cheer
After sagging over the Christmas period, America’s blue chip stock index the Dow Jones is closing back in on 20k. The index opened up triple digits on the first day of trading in 2017 despite nothing materially changing over the Christmas break. This early in the New Year, the main driver of the stock market is momentum. Less than three weeks from his inauguration as President, traders are back to focusing on Donald Trump’s plans to reinvigorate US economic growth. On Tuesday Donald Trump announced Robert Lighthizer, a lawyer with experience in trade litigation, as US trade representative.
A rising tide was lifting all boats including shares of General Motors despite coming under fire from the President-elect. Donald Trump dropped another tweet bomb, this time warning the carmaker could pay higher taxes on US imports of the Chevy Cruse from its Mexican car plant. There remains a lot of question marks over which of his campaign promises Donald Trump will follow through on. His tweet tirades against companies including Boeing, Ford and Lockheed Martin would imply his pro-growth agenda needn’t necessarily be positive for all of corporate America.
The effect of Trump’s criticism over Twitter was not as marked as on previous occasions where shares saw sudden sharp declines. But - many more of these tweets against America’s biggest businesses and markets could start to question whether Trump has a pro-business agenda. Mr Trump’s tweet attacking GM comes after earlier claiming he prevented rival Ford from moving its Lincoln plant to Mexico. If the hope that trade policy wouldn’t play as big of a role as Trump’s business-friendly plans for tax and deregulation is misplaced, Dow 20k may not last long.
Manufacturing surprise supportive of Sterling
Sterling rose against the euro but fell against the US dollar after survey data showed the manufacturing sector at its strongest in two years. The UK manufacturing PMI rose to 56.1, beating expectations of a fall to 53.3 from 53.6. Resilient domestic conditions coupled with the competitive advantage of a weaker pound have created an environment in which British manufacturing can flourish. Still, the data wasn’t enough to buck the trend of a stronger buck as the US dollar index rose to a fresh 15-year high.
Oil at 18-month high on scope for China demand
The price of oil hit an 18-month high on Tuesday on hopes of higher demand from China following unexpectedly strong economic data. Signs that global growth picked up in the fourth quarter is good for demand but January will be a key test for oil prices on the supply-side. Markets will be watching production from OPEC and non-OPEC nations like Russia to see if they keep to their agreements to cut production.
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