In the UK, Prime Minister Theresa May delayed the ‘meaningful’ vote on her EU withdrawal agreement, which was due to take place during the week of 25th February. It will now take place today, 12th March – a self-imposed deadline, timed to precede the Chancellor’s Spring Statement tomorrow. Should her latest proposal fail to get the required Commons support, it’s rumoured the Prime Minister will offer MPs a chance to vote on delaying Brexit beyond the 29th March deadline.
In the US, strong employment figures coupled with positive consumer sentiment suggests the world’s largest economy remains in good shape. This positive economic news comes just weeks after the Federal Reserve announced their decision to press pause on their programme of gradual interest rate rises, designed to prevent any further slowdown in economic growth.
In Europe, confidence appears to be significantly dampened as a result of the economic woes that continue to besiege Italy. The French Economy Minister, Bruno Le Marie told Bloomberg “We talk a lot about Brexit, but we don’t talk much about an Italian recession that will have a significant impact on growth in Europe and can impact France because they are one of our most important trading partners.”
February was another good month for shares with most major stock markets producing positive returns. Despite a strengthening Pound, which typically dampens the performance of large UK companies, the UK’s main market, the FTSE 100 finished higher (+2.30%). The FTSE’s resilience is thanks to many of the companies that make up the index reporting strong earnings that exceeded expectations in February – encouraging signs for the health of UK corporations, in spite of continued Brexit uncertainty.
US markets also had an encouraging month with the large companies in the S&P 500 finishing up +3.21%. This is most likely a combination of strong company earnings, an economy that remains in good shape, and the Federal Reserve, which told Americans to expect fewer interest rate rises in 2019 - something that is generally seen as good for shares.
Other worldwide stock markets including Emerging Markets (+0.22%) and Asia Pacific (+1.46%) also achieved positive returns. Japanese shares also performed well, ending the month up (+3.02%).
In corporate news, Sainsbury’s share price dropped 20% in February after the UK Government blocked a proposed merger with Asda over concerns it will create unfair competition in the retail market, which could push up prices and hit consumers’ pockets.
The Pound held its ground against all major global currencies in February, despite yo-yoing as a result of Brexit uncertainty. As the critical deadline edges closer, this lack of stability in our currency demonstrates how difficult it is to predict the likely outcome of the process for the UK. The Pound rose against the Japanese Yen (+3.38%), US Dollar (+1.16%), and the Euro (+1.83%).
Investment type performance breakdown
Performance among the investment types in your plan this month were mixed: commodities (+0.12%) and shares (+0.64%) finishing positively, whereas global property (-1.23%) and bond (-0.41%) returns finished the month slightly down.
Summary with Plan details
February’s results were mixed, with lower risk investment plans that hold more bonds finishing the month slightly lower, but higher risk investment plans that contain a higher proportion of shares and commodities, ending the month in positive figures.
Our investment team always remain focused on keeping your investment plan on track and will be ready to act as opportunities arise.
The figures shown are based on a medium-risk (Confident) investment Plan.
Please remember the value of your investments can go down as well as up, and you could get back less than invested. Past performance is not an indicator of future growth.