With the first quarter of 2021 now behind us, doubtless information and statistics will be flowing in the weeks to come to demonstrate just how we have been coping with the latest lockdown in economic and business terms. It is too early for any meaningful data to emerge, but such numbers as have been available look mildly encouraging. Moreover, our vaccination roll-out continues to impress and, despite the worrying incidence of further infections on the Continent, some sort of accommodation over vaccine supplies appears to have been reached with Europe.
None of this should do markets and the pound any harm, though actually our benchmark index has done comparatively little over recent weeks. True, there has not been a great deal for investors to get their teeth into. Such news as has made the headlines, such as the blocking and reopening of the Suez Canal and the potential collapse of Liberty Steel has had little impact on share prices and, of course, the Easter holidays are now in full swing. Little wonder that investors’ attention is straying.
Even such relevant news as the introduction of potential tariffs on British goods in retaliation for taxes on technology giants has had little effect. Perhaps the better weather and the gradual easing of lockdown restrictions are cheering investors, though this early glimpse of summer promises to be short lived. Of more relevance is that the longer-term predictions for the global economy from a variety of sources are providing a more upbeat background to the recovery, so perhaps this better tone is sustainable.
One of the consequences of working from home on a regular basis is that you can watch the seasons develop in your garden as the year unfolds. As I write this, a general hue of bright green is spreading throughout the scene outside my study window. Soon the view down to our orchard will be obscured by burgeoning foliage. The process is gently uplifting to the observer. Gentle seems an appropriate description in these difficult days. Hopefully, a gentle easing of restrictions can be accompanied by a gentle market recovery.
We now have two weeks shortened by Bank Holidays and the expectation of more socialising being permitted, so attention in the shorter term is unlikely to be on what statistics emerge following the end of the first quarter. I for one am more interested in getting my haircut than in poring over a set of GDP figures that I know will be revised in the weeks and months ahead. Probably the wise thing is to enjoy the sunshine while it lasts and hope nothing emerges to upset the present gentle stability.