Our Views on the Markets and the Economy

At the beginning of the year, in our forecast that was included in the FT’s Year Ahead Survey, we were among the more optimistic about the UK. Then, we saw the economy growing just over 2% versus 2.2% last year. We expected the pace of growth to slow during the year, with growth next year weaker than this. This remains our view, and our forecasts are unchanged. In contrast, market sentiment has shifted very much towards our way of thinking.

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The new tax year has arrived and with it comes the latest shake-up of the Government’s tax and Isa regime and the launch of the new Lifetime Isa. Below we have detailed the key changes to be aware of.

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So far, so good but there is a long way to go. That is my assessment of the Brexit path we are taking. Brexit offers a fantastic opportunity for the UK to reposition itself in the changing global economy and to address issues that came to the fore during the Referendum campaign. 

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Keeping Abreast of Geopolitical Issues

This note focuses on some of the political and geopolitical issues ahead. On the domestic front, the main focus has to be the negotiations with the EU. Last week saw the triggering of Article 50 by the UK and the immediate response by the European Union. The bureaucratic and political wheels are thus already in motion, with every turn likely to attract media attention, with the potential to influence the market.

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All investors would jump at the chance to reduce their annual fees; now it may be possible for them to do just that and offer the same advantage to other family members or friends.

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Is a Market Correction Due?

Across the major Western economies, similar themes have been evident. Equity markets have performed well. Bond markets are off their highs. However, bond yields are off their lows, although still low relative to recent history and current inflation and economic growth. The dollar is strong, while sterling's fall over the last year leaves it at levels that are fair in the near-term but which could make it attractive - looking a number of years ahead.

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Consider the bad luck of investors in BT and Pearson. For anyone with a substantial holding in either of these blue chip stocks, fourth-quarter results season, which recently ended, was a painful experience.

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Budget Overview

This year there will be two Budgets. The one unveiled this week, and another much later this year, replacing the previous Autumn Statement. That is one reason why this was a relatively low key Budget.

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Philip Hammond’s first Budget as Chancellor and last Spring Budget had few surprises in it, besides a joke about Norman Lamont’s time in the job.

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Budget 2017: What to Expect

On Wednesday the Chancellor delivers the Budget. Last November Philip Hammond announced that the Budget will in future move to the autumn. So this will be the first of two this year and the last one in spring - until a future Chancellor moves the timing back again.

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