30 December 2014

Market comment: Thank you Father Christmas!

December has been an unusually tricky month for investors

In truth, little has changed on the news front. Oil has drifted even lower – good news for motorists and those anxious to keep their heating oil tanks topped up, but not what President Putin wishes to hear. Perhaps the fact that his annual message to the Russian people was less abrasive than many feared would be the case helped the apparent improvement in sentiment, though the cyber attack on Sony from a reported North Korean source and a possible retaliation from the Americans serves as a reminder that the world remains a tricky place.

This is not the time of year when we are likely to be bombarded with excessive corporate or economic news, much to the relief of those of us who wish to concentrate on the giving aspects of this season of generosity and good cheer. Experience tells us that shares are more likely to rise than fall as the year end approaches. Perhaps this will be the case this year, too, though it was certainly not looking like that in the middle of the month.

Those of us who earn our living from trying to second guess market trends will have taken comfort from the near 4% rise achieved by the Footsie the week before Christmas, while better Asian market performances have been helping maintain the festive spirit in the Square Mile. But it is what the future may hold in store for us that should be exercising minds as the year draws to a close.

Next year will doubtless be full of as many challenges as the one just ending, with the additional spice of a General Election to enliven proceedings. Let us hope we can all enjoy as happy and prosperous a New Year as we are able, one I hope that is less eventful than the year just finishing. Until 2015, may I wish you a merry and carefree Christmas.

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