Summer Doldrums

The summer doldrums may not be as much of a concern for investors this year with summer holidays abroad still seeming unlikely. Brian Tora provides his views on what we can expect from the next few months.

Summer has arrived at last – or at least summer weather has. Accompanying the blue skies are generally quieter market conditions, with little news of a dramatic nature to shift shares in either direction. True, we will have the G7 meeting taking place in Cornwall shortly, but I can’t see anything coming out of that which will rock markets or stimulate a buying frenzy, even if they do conclude an agreement on a minimum corporate tax rate.

Generally, markets quieten down as the holiday season gets underway. This year the bucket and spade brigade look like having a much reduced set of options when it comes to taking a summer break. As with other aspects of the disruption caused by the pandemic, there will be winners and losers in the holiday stakes, with many domestic options likely to benefit from enhanced local demand. Indeed, the biggest problem for some hotels and other hospitality venues seems to be finding the staff to ensure they can operate properly. It’s an ill wind…

It will be some weeks before anything meaningful in the way of economic data or company results emerges to tell us how the first half of 2021 has really been for the business community. By and large the early indications are that the recovery is well on track, though in the meantime, Covid-19 rumbles on as a factor – largely negative, so far as the travel industry is concerned. And we will soon learn whether the increase in infections caused by the Delta variant will interrupt the government’s plans to complete the ending of restrictions on midsummer’s day.

Perhaps the most interesting recent development has been the news that an activist investor has taken a stake in Aviva. Cevian is looking for this East Anglian based insurance giant to return £5 billion of excess capital to investors and implement £500 million of cost savings. It was all enough to give Aviva’s shares a boost in early trading after the story broke, though whether this will amount to anything useful for shareholders is too early to say.

While we await the details of our next stage of unlocking, we have the fall from grace of Bitcoin to consider, along with the realisation that many organisations are now heavily dependent on cloud technology. The news that many important websites ceased to operate because the cloud facilities on which they rely had failed in some measure can only be a concern. Technology now rules our lives in a way that would have been unimaginable a generation ago. This may overall be a plus for society, but it represents a threat as well. Best not to think about it and just enjoy the summer weather.

Brian Tora, Associate

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