Spring is here!

It has been a long, hard winter. Personally, I blame Russia. After all, the “Beast from the East” had its origins in Siberia.

And Russia is very much in the news at present. Aside from fingers being pointed at them over the Salisbury poisoning and their efforts at frustrating those investigating the alleged chemical attack in Syria, stories abound of imminent cyber attacks on the West, not just on infrastructure and business, but on the humble PC as well. You have been warned.  

Despite rising tensions between Russia and the West, shares have held remarkably steady in recent trading. At the beginning of April the FTSE 100 Share Index dipped below 7000. Recently it has climbed above 7250, though sentiment is fickle and it is by no means a one way street. However, notwithstanding continued concerns over how far this current bull market has to run, investors clearly took advantage of recent dips to accumulate shares at cheaper prices.

As it happens, there is little for investors to get their teeth into for the foreseeable future, though markets will doubtless be moved by the unexpected. Most companies reporting to a calendar year end have already disclosed how 2017 was for them. True, first quarter figures from a number of companies will be emerging, but the most interesting of these are likely to be on the other side of the Atlantic. There is a little merger and acquisition activity about, but not all of that is positive, with Hammerson withdrawing its bid for shopping centre operator Intu, much to the relief of its shareholders.

Even the economic scene is quiet. The US/China trade dispute seems to be easing, following President Xi Jinping’s recent speech, though the IMF has warned that failure to resolve this issue threatens the global economic recovery. The Eurozone and Japan have been releasing various statistics and surveys, but little of substance is expected from here or the United States. And such news as is emerging has, by and large, been favourable, with China posting better than expected economic growth figures.

Meanwhile, oil has eased back in price a little, following a steady improvement as investors expressed concerns over outcomes in Syria, while the pound has been enjoying a period of quiet strength against both the dollar and the euro despite lower than expected inflation numbers taking a little of the pressure off the Bank of England to raise interest rates. All in all life for investors could be a whole lot worse, given that Russia is complaining about worsening relations with the West. Even the weather has taken a turn for the better. Long may the calm – and the warmth - continue.

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