Playing the waiting game

With the votes in Parliament that will determine what sort of Brexit we are likely to have at the end of month due to take place next week...

...and the trade talks between the United States and China hopefully approaching some sort of a conclusion, markets are understandably in a nervous mood. 

And there is plenty else happening elsewhere. Company results for 2018 are still coming out regularly, not that there has been too much to get excited about recently, but central banks are in the news and are always worth an examination.

The European Central Bank is holding a press conference this week at which we may well discover what plans they have to try to keep Europe’s economies growing. There is much concern that growth in the Eurozone is stalling, a situation not made any easier by Brexit. Perhaps more important to the global economic scene is that the chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank in America, Jerome Powell, will be sharing his thoughts with us as well. Elsewhere, China has warned that economic growth there is slowing, though they still expect a respectable 6% advance for the current year.

There is further evidence of the pain being felt amongst Britain’s High Street retailers. Debenhams has issued yet another profits warning (it put out three last year) against a background of falling sales. Further store closures are looking inevitable. And we now learn that a cashless society is approaching fast, with the number of transactions carried out with paper money and coins dropping sharply.

By the end of next week, we may have a clearer idea of what the future has in store. The recent recovery in sterling against the euro suggests that the odds on a deal being cobbled together with the European Union are improving. But getting any amended terms through the House of Commons will not be easy. Nor are the odds too high for significant changes to the Transaction Agreement being on offer from the Europeans.

It is at times like this that making predictions on the likely direction of markets and currencies feels like a mugs game. Frankly, it usually is, but taking a long term view, eschewing sentiment and trying to avoid accidents have generally worked in my time in this business. True, there will be ups and downs but, with a sensible approach, a rising income over time should be achieved. When you think about it, what other reason is there for investing in equities?

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