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Autumn Budget Statement

10 Dec

You have to give George Osborne his dues…we all knew there were failings in the assumptions from the Summer Budget. He didn’t duck the bullet. Rather than just guidelines and review of the Summer Budget (normally what seems to be the Autumn Budget), it was more an introduction to the Spring Budget 2013, giving details of  some of the fiscal changes ahead.

A benefit of knowing about tax policy to be introduced from a future date is, it gives us a chance to plan now.

Registered Pension Schemes

George Osborne made proposals to cut back on the tax advantages of registered pensions.

The bad news :-

 Annual allowance to be reduced from £50,000 to £40,000 from tax year 2014/15.
 Lifetime allowance to be reduced from £1.5m to £1.25m from 2014/15

The good news :-

 Allowances to remain unchanged for 2012/13 and 2013/14 (at up to £50,000)

 Carry Forward remains unchanged for tax years 2010/11, 2011/12, 2012/13 and 2013/14 (at up to £50,000)

 Fixed protection available – enabling benefits to be taken up to the greater of the standard lifetime allowance and £1.5m without any lifetime allowance charge

1.  Election by 5 April 2014

2.  Protection lost where further accrual/contributions on or after

      6 April 2014

 Personalised protection option – a possible additional transitional protection

1.  Provides a lifetime allowance of the greater of the standard lifetime

     allowance and £1.5 million, but without the need to cease

     accrual/contributions on or after 6 April 2014.

2. Available to individuals with pension benefits with a value of at least

     £1.25 million on 5 April 2014.

 Maximum capped drawdown income to be increased from 100% to 120% of the relevant annuity rate determined from the GAD tables – date to be confirmed.

Planning Opportunities

The reduction in the annual allowance was expected and was only to £40,000 (it could have been worse). The reduction doesn’t apply until tax year 2014/15. Carry Forward of unused annual allowance of up to £50,000 for each of tax years 2010/11, 2011/12, 2012/13 and 2013/14, is available.

It gives a high earners the chance to maximise contributions before the reduction in the allowance bites. Also, for very high earners, if action is taken before the end of this tax year, they may be able to secure the 50% tax relief.

The changes to the lifetime allowance will mean that any one likely to be affected by the reduction and looking to retire in the near future will need to consider all means to reduce/avoid any lifetime allowance charge. This includes :-

  • Electing for fixed protection and/or, if available, personalised protection.
  • Considering drawing some or all of their benefits in 2012/13 or 2013/14 when these will be set against the current £1.5 million lifetime allowance.
  • Consider how benefits are taken.

Income Tax

So, it seems fair to say, there is actually only a very small change in the potential tax bill payable. Personal allowance has increased and the basic rate band has shrunk. The unlucky few are worse off but in most cases the situation seems to either be neutral or possibly a slight improvement.

The personal allowance is to increase by £1,335 to £9,440 in 2013/14 – an improvement in the terms announced in the Summer Budget.

In 2013/14, the basic rate tax limit will reduce from £34,370 to £32,010. This is offset by the increased personal allowance.

The result of these changes is that all taxpayers who are fully entitled to a personal allowance (where net income is less than £100,000) will be better off. At the lower end, the extra increase in the personal allowance will lift a quarter of a million people out of tax altogether.

From 6 April 2013, additional rate income tax will reduce from 50% to 45%. This rate applies for those who have taxable income of more than £150,000. For those affected, there is an incentive to make investments before 6 April 2013 and defer the resultant income until after that time.

In terms of planning for married couples/registered civil partners, this will mean that:

 There is scope to shelter income from tax if a higher/additional rate taxpayer is prepared to transfer income-generating investments (including possibly shares in a private limited company) into a non-taxpaying spouse’s name

 There is an incentive for lower rate taxpayers to make increased contributions to registered pension plans with a view to ensuring that any resulting pension income falls within the personal allowance.

Age Allowance

As the personal allowance increases, the age allowance is gradually being phased out. The amounts of age allowance are frozen at £10,500 for those born between 6 April 1938 and 5 April 1948 and £10,660 for those born before 6 April 1938.

For those who satisfy the age conditions, the age allowance is still currently worth more than the personal allowance. However, the allowance is cut back by £1 for each £2 of income that exceeds the income limit. The income limit will increase from £25,400 to £26,100 in 2013/14.

For those who are caught in this income trap, you should take appropriate planning i.e. reinvesting income-producing investments into tax-free investments (ISAs, VCTs, EISs, SEISs) or possibly tax-deferred investments (single premium bonds) or by implementing independent taxation strategies.

Business Tax

The Government will reduce the main rate of corporation tax by an additional 1% in April 2014 to 21% in April 2014.

The small profits rate of corporation tax for companies with profits of less than £300,000 will remain at 20%.

The capital allowance known as the Annual Investment Allowance will increase from £25,000 to £250,000 for qualifying investments in plant and machinery for two years from 1 January 2013. This is designed to encourage and incentivise business investment in plant and machinery, particularly among SMEs.

A simpler income tax scheme for small unincorporated businesses will be introduced for the tax year 2013/14 to allow:

Eligible self-employed individuals and partnerships to calculate their profits on the basis of the cash that passes through their business. Businesses with receipts of up to £77,000 will be eligible and will be able to use the cash basis until receipts reach £154,000. They will generally not have to distinguish between revenue and capital expenditure.

All unincorporated businesses will be able choose to deduct certain expenses on a flat rate basis.

Tax Avoidance and Evasion

As expected the Government unveiled a bundle of measures aimed at countering tax avoidance and tax evasion.

Areas of particular interest are:-

•  The introduction of the General Anti-Abuse Rule. This will provide a significant new deterrent to people establishing abusive avoidance schemes and strengthen HMRC’s means of tackling them. Guidance and draft legislation will be published later in December 2012;

•  Increasing the resources of HMRC with a view to:

•  Dealing more effectively with avoidance schemes

•  Expanding HMRC’s Affluent Unit to deal more effectively with taxpayers with a net worth of more than £1 million

•  Increasing specialist resources to tackle offshore evasion and avoidance of inheritance tax using offshore trusts, bank accounts and other entities, and

•  Improving technology to help counter tax avoidance/evasion

•  Closing down with immediate effect for loopholes associated with tax avoidance schemes.

•  Conducting a review of offshore employment intermediaries being used to avoid tax and NICs. An update on this work will be provided in the Budget 2013.

•  From 6 April 2013 the Government will cap all previously unlimited personal income tax reliefs at the greater of £50,000 and 25 per cent of an individual’s income. Charitable reliefs will be exempt from this cap as will tax-relievable investments that are already subject to a cap.

Inheritance Tax

The inheritance Nil Rate Threshold is to increase, although by only 1% in 2015/2016 to £329,000. Currently, the Nil Rate Threshold is £325,000 and has been frozen since 2009 until 2015. This means, from 6 April 2015, if the first of a married couple to die does not use any of his/her nil rate band, then the survivor will have a total nil rate band (including the transferable nil rate band) of £658,000.

We await the outcome of the consultation on the taxation of discretionary trusts which is due to be released in December. Hopefully this will incorporate some simplification to the current complex system.

Capital Gains Tax (CGT)

The CGT Annual Exemption (£10,600 in 2012/2013) will increase to £11,000 in 2014/2015 and £11,100 in 2015/2016. We do not know what it will be in 2013/14.

Gains that exceed the annual exempt amount in a tax year will continue to be subject to CGT at 18% and/or 28% depending on the taxpayer’s level of taxable income.

Trustees pay a flat rate of 28% on gains that exceed their annual exemption.

Individual Savings Account

The current maximum investment in an ISA is £11,280 in a tax year (maximum of £5,640 in cash). With effect from the tax year 2013/2014, the maximum will increase to £11,520 (with the cash content not to exceed £5,760). Use of the allowance should always be maximised as any unused allowance cannot be carried forward.

The Junior Isa and Child Trust Fund maximum annual contribution limit will move from £3,600 to £3,720 from 6 April 2013.

The Government will consult on expanding the list of Qualifying Investments for stocks and shares ISAs to include shares traded on small and medium enterprises (SMEs) equity markets such as the Alternative Investment Market and comparable markets. This could lead to ISAs becoming even more appealing as a tax shelter.

Venture Capital Trusts (VCTs) and Enterprise Investment Schemes (EIS)

The rule changes, mostly approved months ago, revolved mainly around opening up more companies for investment from VCTs and EIS, and increasing how much can be invested.

The size of companies that the schemes can invest in has been increased from £7 million to £15 million and the number of employees from 50 to 250.

The limit on the amount an individual can invest in an EIS has increased from £500,000 to £1 million, while the amount an EIS or VCT can invest in an individual company has increased to £5 million.

Ian Sayers, director general of the Association of Investment Companies (AIC), commented, ‘The proposed rule changes allow VCTs to invest in a wider range of companies which is a welcome boost to the sector and businesses desperately seeking finance.

‘The Chancellor’s removal of the £1million limit on VCT investment in a single company will ensure more efficient support to smaller businesses in the UK.’

However, the Budget also finalised plans to subject VCTs and EIS to further scrutiny in relation to the investments that they make.

The government will introduce a ‘disqualifying purpose test’, designed to exclude VCTs or EIS that do not invest in qualifying companies and are set up solely for the purpose of giving investors tax relief.

Although the schemes escaped any changes to their individual tax benefits, the Budget introduced a cap on tax relief, in an effort to prevent high income taxpayers getting away with very low tax rates.

The new rules will set a cap of 25% of income on anyone seeking tax relief of over £50,000 but, while the proposals are not particularly clear, it appears EIS and VCTs will be exempt.

Paul Latham, managing director of Octopus Investments, explained, ‘The good news is that the government’s new cap only applies to tax reliefs which are currently classed as “unlimited”. This means that tax-efficient investments, such as EIS and VCTs, are unaffected by this legislation.’

 

HMRC Crack Down on Tax Avoidance Schemes

22 Aug

HMRC has won, subject to appeal three court decisions against tax avoidance schemes. These cases are expected to provide the Exchequer with £200 Million.

The message is clear – when planning to minimise tax, ensure you use the rules that exist, take advantage of government backed schemes (eg personal pensions, ISAs, VCTs, EISs, AGR & BPR related schemes) and use accepted approaches within the flavour of the law – take professional advice. The cases in question are high value high – profile and are out of the remit of the general investor but the ethos of HMRC is clear.

HMRC Letter 480

HMRC have stated that this sends “a very clear message” that it will tackle efforts to avoid paying tax.

The first case, against ‘Schofield’ and heard in the Court of Appeal on 11 July, involved a business owner using a tax avoidance scheme to create an artificial loss on his sold business, even though it had actually made him a £10m profit. HMRC said he paid £200,000 to be involved in the scheme.

Another case against Sloane Robinson Investment Services, heard in the First Tier Tribunal on 16 July, saw the company’s directors attempt to avoid a combined £13m worth of tax on their bonuses. The First Tier Tribunal ruled the scheme, even once it had been modified to counter recently introduced anti-tax avoidance legislation, did not work.

In the final case, against ‘Barnes’ in the Upper Tribunal on 30 July, a scheme aimed at exploiting a mismatch between two tax regimes on behalf of more than 100 individuals failed to work. HMRC said some £100m was at stake as a result of this scheme.

HMRC director general of business tax, Jim Harra, said: “These wins in the courts are a victory for the vast majority of taxpayers who do not try to dodge their taxes. They send a clear message to tax avoiders – HMRC will challenge tax avoidance relentlessly and we will beat you.

“We have now had three major court successes in avoidance cases in the last month alone and I hope this sends a very clear message: These schemes don’t come cheap, you carry a serious risk that you’ll end up paying the tax and interest on top of a set-up charge which can run into the hundreds of thousands of pounds.

“These were complex cases which show HMRC’s experts doing what they do best, delivering great results for the UK.”

Mark Lyttleton Is Taking A Leave of Absence From BlackRoch & Fund Management

1 Jun

Mark Lyttleton is taking a leave of absence for the summer (18 June and end on 17 September 2012). So what does this mean for the funds he manages at BlackRock?

Mark Lyttleton to run absolute return fund for St James's Place

In most cases where personal family issues are given as the reason for the break, one can’t speculate on the issues why. Although, it is more common that if they return to work the vast majority of fund managers that take time out do not return to the role they previously held.

For investors the crucial aspect of this latest twist in the Mark Lyttleton tale is – what to do if their money is in one of his funds?

Since the start of this year, Mark Lyttleton has been removed from managing the BlackRock UK Fund. The reason given at the time so that he could focus on the higher alpha strategies he runs – the BlackRock UK Absolute Alpha and BlackRock UK Dynamic funds.

This makes the timing of his three-month break even more extraordinary.

 

My contact details are :- tel 029 2020 1241, email welshmoneywiz@virginmedia.com, twitter welshmoneywiz, linkedin Darren Nathan

What’s The Scenario if Greece Exits The Euro & Eurozone?

26 May

Greek Flag

If Greece left the Eurozone, I expect this would be bad for Greece with a hike in inflation, unemployment, panic and social unrest likely.

There are some powerful factions within the Greek political system who are clearly anti the austerity measures imposed. I, as we all, can sympathise to some extent with the plight but there is a limitation as the problem is partly home-grown – where other countries made cut backs and tough decisions in the last decade these where not in Greece.

If Greece can’t satisfy the demands of the European Union and the IMF, then they will cut off Greece’s last remaining lines of credit. Without this, Greece will not be able to pay its bills and could drop out of the euro altogether.

Who should pay for these mistakes? Is there an answer? We can’t change the past and can only deal with the current and plan for the future.

 

So what is opinion on this :-

 

Carsten Brzeski, senior economist, ING Belgium

  • Chaos.
  • Greek banks vulnerable from collapse (lack of support if problems arise)
  • Greek companies vulnerable from collapse (lack of support if problems arise)
  • Unemployment would spike
  • Expect the new drachma would drop drastically in value
  • Food and energy prices would leap (poor exchange rates worsen the situation)
  • The turmoil would undermine any opportunity for growth
  • The outlook for the Eurozone would worsen.

 

Michael Arghyrou, senior economics lecturer, Cardiff Business School

  • The drachma would be devalued (at least 50%), causing inflation
  • Interest rates will double and all mortgages, business loans and other borrowing will become much more expensive.
  • There will be no credit for Greek banks or the Greek state.
  • Expected shortage of basic commodities, like oil or medicine or even foodstuffs.
  • A lot of Greek firms rely on foreign suppliers, who may cut off Greek customers.
  • Greek companies could be driven out of business.
  • Greece will lose its only reference point of stability, which was its euro status.
  • The country would end up in a volatile period.
  • There would be institutional weakness.
  • The worst case scenario would be a social and economic breakdown, perhaps even leading to a totalitarian regime.

 

Sony Kapoor, managing director of the Re-Define think tank

  • Greeks or European policy makers talking about an exit in a casual blase way are being highly, highly irresponsible.
  • Total cost versus the total benefit remains overwhelmingly negative, both for the Eurozone and Greece.
  • A Greek exit could undo a large part of good work in Ireland and Portugal.
  • If you are a Portuguese saver with money in the bank, even if there is a small likelihood of losing that money, it would make perfect sense to move euro deposits while you can to a safer haven, like the Netherlands and Germany.
  • There would be a significant deposit flight in peripheral countries.
  • It would immediately weigh on investment in the real economy, because corporations would be very reluctant to invest anything at all.

 

Megan Greene, director of European economics at Roubini Global Economics

  • Cascading bank defaults in Greece would be expected
  • Everybody would take money out of Portuguese and Spanish banks.
  • A big part could be plugged by the European Central Bank (ECB) through a liquidity operation that would backstop the banks. The ECB has already done that several times and it would step up to the plate again.
  • Political contagion or unrest.
  • Greece is a small country and the rest of the Eurozone has been making provision for this for a long time now.
  • The Eurozone could survive a Greek exit.
  • The exit could be better for everyone involved if managed in a co-ordinated orderly way. 
  • If a unilateral default, an exit would be a worse option for Greece.

 

Jan Randolph, head of sovereign risk, IHS Global Insight

  • If credit is withdrawn by the EU and IMF, then Greece becomes a cash economy. It means the government can only pay what it collects.
  • The government starts shutting down, 10-15% of state employees don’t get paid and unemployment surges from 20% to 30%.
  • But Greece can still use the euro.
  • It would be difficult for the ECB to keep banks afloat.
  • The Greek banking sector would collapse.
  • More unemployment, as credit for companies would dry up.
  • What happens next is a political question.
  • European nations would probably not accept another Western European country descending into chaos and collapse.
  • The EU and IMF would probably negotiate some kind of aid.
  • Greece could continue with the euro.

 

 My contact details are :- tel 029 2020 1241, email welshmoneywiz@virginmedia.com, twitter welshmoneywiz, linkedin Darren Nathan

 

Greece and a Change to the Eurozone?

24 May
So with the Greek election (take 2) looming only weeks away, the questions is – will Greece remain in the Eurozone? Personally, I believe if they left it would be both political and financial suicide but that is just an opinion. For the Eurozone such an option is unthinkable and hugely damaging – let alone the fear of the domino effect (so who would be next) and I guess that would/could lead to the end of the Eurozone.
 
Drachma may become legal tender in Greece again
 
It seems clear that there is growing support for the opinion that the current strategies for resolving the Eurozone Debt Crisis are doomed to failure. The most likely scenarios are :-
  • a Greek exit, or 
  • a rapid shift to a fiscal union.
If Greece is anything to go by, the current approach of forcing austerity on crisis economies and preserving their membership of the euro leads to dissent by the voting population. If we look at the voters behavioural changes, this seems to have led sentiment towards more extreme parties, both on the left and on the right.
 
In recent opinion polls, the majority of Greek voters (in excess of 75%) want to remain in the Eurozone (but also reject the austerity programme). The issue being, if there is a change/relaxation of the agreed commitments would send a destructive message to all other member states who are part of austerity programmes. This could lead to financial markets losing confidence, outflows of funds from Greece and other associated economies would accelerate, yields on financial instruments would sore. If this was the case it would be realistic to see the Euro could unravel and collapse.
 
A Greek Exit
A Greek default and exit from the Euro could have dire knock-on effects possibly leading to similar financial disasters in Spain and Italy. To prevent this contagion would require the ECB to lend several trillion euros to banks, and the available funds in this scenario are unlikely to be sufficient to cope with the fallout.
 
A Rapid Shift to Fiscal Union
This is expected to avoid the risk of contagion and financial collapse in at least some of the peripheral nations. This would require a substantial move towards a more centralised or federal style control of Eurozone government revenues and expenditures. This includes the concept currently being negotiated of Eurozone government issued bonds on behalf of all member states collectively.
 
If Brussels were to take over the debts of Greece and other struggling peripherals the immediate credit crisis would recede and the Eurozone credit would establish itself alongside US Treasury debt as one of the foremost debt markets in the world.
 
The outcome is stability but the unknown – is at what cost, both short and long-term?
 
This is in direct comparison of the current situation, where the current approach has led to  the Eurozone capitulation to the need to bail out Greece, Ireland and Portugal has undermined the monetary union, and the risk of contagion to Spain and Italy now threatens its very existence.
 
My contact details are :- rel 029 2020 1241, email welshmoneywiz@virginmedia.com, twitter welshmoneywiz, linkedin Darren Nathan

Relief Rally or the Start of Something More?

22 May

Yesterday saw stocks rebound from last weeks losses – the debate is whether it’s just a quick relief rally or the start of a new move higher?

In order to break that gravitational pull, we’ll need evidence suggesting the worries are at least containable and that the market and growth contractions realistically are expected to reverse – yes, I mean sustainable growth. I am looking for signs the rally is sustainable.

Personally, depending on information and data in the next few days, we have the potential to see a rally at least short-term. The question I want answered currently is, “Is all the recent bad news and woes already priced into the market?” Although, on the time horizon, there are other factors that could start worrying stocks – the so-called “fiscal cliff,” combination of budget cuts and tax hikes for next year, issues around China’s growth story, etc.

The worries over the Eurozone hangs over the market and any further negative headlines could easily derail the market’s rally if this recent positive market move is the start of a rally. The European leaders summit Wednesday could well be a good barometer to this risk.

The G8, over the weekend, helped give markets a bounce after leaders embraced Greece, saying they want it to stay in the Eurozone and they would also seek ways to motivate ways to create and stain global growth. China also helped, with Premier Wen Jiabao staing that China will focus on boosting growth.

Some believe that with the efforts taking place, we may have seen the bottom of the recent correction on Friday, but it is not clear-cut. The opposite opinion on the situation provided by some analysts is, “we’re not there yet” and believe “we‘re going to be in more of a ‘sell in May and go away’ trend”. Here, the belief is the summer is going to flatten out, then we come back in the fall. If this is the case we easily could have another month of the current market trends.

My contact details are :- tel  029 2020 1241, email welshmoneywiz@virginmedia.com, twitter welshmoneywiz, linkedin Darren Nathan

Markets Plummet – An Overview

10 May

We have seen markets plummet since the elections over last weekend, down to lows of 2012 as investors took flight from stocks at risk of being dragged down by troubles in the Eurozone. This sell-off  seems to have been triggered, at least in part, by fears that a planned coalition government in Greece will tear-up the austerity deal underpinning the country’s recent €240billion (£190billion) bail-out.

The FTSE 100 Index saw £26 Billion wiped off its value following a further slide of over 100 points. This is a third day running of major sell-offs across most stock markets following concerns over the future of the Eurozone.

Alexis Tsipras, whose Syriza party came a surprise second in Sunday’s poll, is insisting his country’s bailout deal with the EU and IMF is ‘null and void’.

As well as uncertainty over Greece, fears that Spain will need to bail out its banking sector caused that country’s 10-year bond yield to soar again above the ‘unsustainable’ 6% level. This is perilously close to the 7% interest rate on government borrowing that prompted Greece, Portugal and Ireland to seek bailouts.

Financial analysts said the current market turmoil was likely to continue. It appears unlikely that a Greek coalition would be formed considering the rhetoric from the various party leaders, so uncertainty was likely to reign for a while.

‘The worst case scenario for the EU is if Greece leaves the Eurozone and undertakes a disorderly default. It is difficult to see why the country would do this but then again it only takes one angry politician to change history – Greece is staring into the political and financial abyss. Whilst a less likely scenario, if it did happen it could have huge ramifications for the rest of Europe.

A default for Greece looks likely and a departure from the Euro in the next 18 months is expected – this scenario has in excess of 66% outcome expectation – good chance of happening. Greece would not be allowed to walk away from its debts and financial obligations, if it leaves the euro. The likely scenario would be it would be given a greater period of time to repay its debts. The sanctions against Greece, if it attempted to renege on its debts, does not bear thinking about.

These are grave concerns and the ramifications for the Eurozone, global economic prosperity and stock markets are huge.

Investing is about taking best advantage of the market cycle while avoiding the periods of market panic – I am pleased to say, we hold a defensive strategy across all my clients and so we have avoided the worse of the declines and are well placed to benefit from the market opportunities expected to be created by the current market turmoil.

My contact details are :- tel 029 2020 1241, email welshmoneywiz@virginmedia.com, twitter welshmoneywiz, linkedin Darren Nathan

Sell in May & Go Away ?

1 May

It’s far to say that 2012 started well, which lead to a market correction. The outcome so far for the year is at best neutral. So following sell-offs in 2010 & 2011, s 2012 going to be the same?

It seems less likely as we are far more cautious on our overall outlook but you can never say never with the major economic over-hangs around the world – Eurozone Debt, China’s declining GDP, global economic growth, commodity pricing, etc., etc.

So far, we have witnessed weak data reigniting fears and concerns over global growth, events in China and the Middle East and the Eurozone Debt Crisis. In 2010 & 2011 a strong first quarter was followed by heavy selling

So for 2012 ?

  • we will have periods the same but unless there is a catalyst to drive a correction, it seems less likely for now.
  • The behaviour of the equity markets, coupled with the dwindling number of positive economic surprises, the valuations and technical signals share striking similarities with the stock market years of 2010 and 2011.
  • Positive earnings revisions should help support the equity markets in coming months.
  • The first quarter 2012 reporting season indicates that cyclical sectors such as technology and consumer cyclicals have the greatest surprise potential.
  • The Eurozone debt crisis remains a major concern with a risk that it could lead to negative sentiment. (If the Eurozone remains in recession till the end of the year, a fresh escalation of the Euro crisis is likely.)
 

My Position

I have reduced market risk within equities and previously removed commodities from portfolios. Currently, I am retaining a strong equity position but focusing on cash flows, balance sheets and diversification.

I remain underweight in global and convertible bonds but have strong positions in corporate and government debt (during this period of uncertainty) and a light holding in gold.

To contact me :- tel 029 2020 1241, email welshmoneywiz@virginmedia.com, twitter welshmoneywiz, linkedin Darren Nathan

Market Outlook This Week

26 Apr

The Good News – the market snapped the losing streak at only two weeks, with a modest gain last week.  

The Bad News – that’s pretty much the only good news.

 

Economic Events

The retail sales for March and last week’s economic numbers were net-neutral. Stocks did well to finish the week with a gain and I expect the pessimists may have more to shout about shortly.

On the positive, retail sales numbers showed that consumers spent more in March. Unfortunately, that’s the only decisively ‘good’ news there was last week.

Otherwise, the news reports were uneventfully neutral.

From the negative side, the UK as well as the most of Europe are back in Recession (its official), existing home sales fell, continuing unemployment claims rose and prosperity generally looks under pressure. These will raise both concerns and possibly fears for the future.

Last week’s economic numbers weren’t compelling and explains why the market remained pretty neutral.  If the coming week’s numbers aren’t better, it’s seems less likely that stocks will build on last week’s growth and further drops are become more expected.

 

Bigger concerns lie with expected Q1’s GDP growth estimates and the more positive recent forecasts are looking over-optimistic and could fall back, seeing revisions in excess of 10%. Order books are likely to have the typical knock-on effect, and durable orders are likely to fall, as well — not good for stock market valuations. I expect that this could see further revisions in consumer confidence.

Here’s hoping that we see improvements in the jobs figures but if this doesn’t happen the compounded effect of negativity will be dire.

I struggle to see where optimists can suggest opportunities lie.

Although, volatile markets create opportunities and I am well placed for a market drop giving me the opportunity for the market confusion to create buying opportunities – buy when others panic and out of favour sectors where some real returns may exist.

 

Stock Markets

It’s pretty clear that the market’s direction has changed.  Both the 20-day moving average line and the 50-day moving average line are now pointed lower.  While it’s certainly possible – and likely – we’ll see bullish days even while the trend is technically bearish, one or two bullish days doesn’t snap a bigger losing streak.  Only a close above the 20-day line would suggest the overall trend had turned bullish again – I don’t expect this until the negative news has been priced into the markets.

Looking to the CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) (VXX) (VXZ) – we are waiting for a spike in the commonly called fear index from the lows we are currently experiencing. So clearly there is little downside potential but huge upside risk. So what does that mean in English – there are many reasons for the stock markets to drop and an increase in fear could see this drop but how much of a drop?

based on historical data – possibly a 9% drop but reality and common sense dictates that the drop may be more or les severe and will be influenced by sentiment and the economic data.

In fact, the VIX’s 20-day average is about to cross above its 50-day average line for the first time since late last year. 

Things are definitely changing, and not for the better.

Remember every market cycle creates silver linings  – and opportunities to profit. I think the next few weeks will be key.

My email address is :- welshmoneywiz@virginmedia.com, tel (office) 029 2020 1241

twitter welshmoneywiz, linkedin Darren Nathan

A Day of Panic

24 Apr

Political uncertainty and disappointing data in Europe raised fears the Eurozone could struggle to push through austerity measures and may stay in recession until late in the year.

The Dutch prime minister resigned from office on Monday after Dutch officials failed to agree on budget cuts, while France’s Socialist presidential candidate Francois Hollande, who promised to renegotiate a European budget pact, won in the first-round of elections. The third place win by Marine Le Pen shocked internationals as this showed growing support for xenophobic strategies, which undermines the fabric of a single european market.

Adding to that, the euro zone’s business slump deepened at a far faster pace than expected in April.

Financial markets have been unnerved by the rise of Francois Hollande, previously best known as the partner of Ségolène Royale, French president Nicolas Sarkosy’s defeated opponent in the last French election.

The economy is at the centre of the election campaigns in France. Although far from the plight of peripheral Eurozone countries, it is struggling with weak economic growth, 10% unemployment, straining public finances and a population unwilling to give up on cherished pensions and welfare benefits.

Both Hollande and Sarkozy advocate a financial transaction tax, which would have a far bigger impact on the City of London than on the Paris bourse.

We await for round 2!

My email address :- welshmoneywiz@virginmedia.com, twitter welshmoneywiz, linkedin Darren Nathan