3rd December– 9th December 2018

Front and centre of our thoughts this week include

Federal Reserve (Fed) governor Jay Powell is scheduled to speak before Congress’s Joint Economic Committee on Wednesday. Considering the market-moving comments he made last week (more on that below), it is worth paying attention to see how he builds on them and whether the tone is as dovish.

On Thursday OPEC members are due to meet in Vienna to discuss their 2019 production strategy. Oil production has been increasing leading to worries about oversupply – the result has been the worst month for the oil price in ten years. What’s also added fuel to the fire are the cuts to forecasts for global demand of the commodity. 

With this Friday being the first Friday of the month, we also have the latest US employment to look forward to.  As Jay Powell confirmed the Fed would be paying close attention to data, Friday’s report will be under increased scrutiny, in particular the wage growth figures. The unemployment rate is expected to hold at 3.7%.

Finally, keep an eye on the multitude of PMIs received this week across the globe, providing the latest look into the health of China, UK, US and European economies. It was kicked off on a positive note this morning as we received the UK’s Manufacturing PMI, which was ahead of expectations. Within the detail, strength of domestic orders contributed to the strong reading, as well as the fact companies are stockpiling to protect against Brexit risks.

Going on in the engine of Brexit

As we move closer to the key date of December 11th for the parliamentary vote, Theresa May continues her best efforts to try and persuade fellow MPs her deal is the best one available. As part of these efforts, a vast amount of the Prime Minister’s focus this week will be on preparation for her live debate alongside Jeremy Corbyn on Sunday. It’s likely to be a heated affair considering they couldn’t even agree on which TV channel to air it!

Bank of England (BoE) governor, Mark Carney, came under fire last week, accused of being “hysterical” by providing the central bank’s worst-case scenario for the economy if we crashed out of the EU without a deal or transition. 

In the rear view mirror of last week we saw

Equity markets had a strong week, particularly the US. The catalyst for this was Fed governor Jay Powell’s speech confirming his thoughts that the Fed are near the “neutral” interest rate. The S&P 500 rallied 5% last week as a result of this news. President Trump will be happy with these comments, as he has continuously criticised the Fed, and Powell in particular, for continuing to raise interest rates. 

We were also updated with the Fed’s preferred inflation metric, core PCE, which eased below the 2% target to 1.8% on an annualised rate for October. The reading should reaffirm Powell’s comments that they are nearing the end of their interest rate hiking cycle.

Over the weekend we had the G20 summit, which included the highly anticipated meeting between President Trump and Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping around trade. It’s reported that China will be dodging the additional $200 billion worth of tariffs the US threatened them with as they pledged to buy more agricultural products, as well as reducing the import duty on cars from the US.

In the side view mirrors of corporate activity we notice

Unilever, consumer goods giant, chief executive announced last week he will step down in January. Paul Polman has been steering the ship for the past ten years, however it’s thought the recent failed attempt at simplifying the company’s dual Anglo-Dutch structure by moving the HQ to Rotterdam has played a part in his departure. Alan Jope, president of Unilever’s Beauty & Personal Care, will be taking over the helm. In an eventful week for the company, they also announced they were in talks with GlaxoSmithKline to buy their nutrition business, which includes brands such as Horlicks. 

America’s largest carmaker, General Motors (GM), announced last week they are seeking substantial cost-cutting measures, including the closure of seven manufacturing plants, which include politically important states such as Ohio and Michigan. Management hope it will result in around $6 billion in cost cuts. GM’s chief executive confirmed the decision was made in anticipation of a slowdown in the economy further down the line.

Source: Bloomberg. Figures are for the period 26th November to 30th November 2018.
Where the index is in a foreign currency, we have provided the local currency return.

The above chart provides the performance for the three developed market geographies where the TMWM MPS portfolios maintain their largest exposure. All investments and indexes can go down as well as up. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance.

Opinions, interpretations and conclusions expressed in this document represent our judgement as of this date and are subject to change. Furthermore, the content is not intended to be relied upon as a forecast, research or investment advice, and is not a recommendation, offer or a solicitation to buy or sell any securities or to adopt any investment strategy. This note has been issued by Thomas Miller Wealth Management Limited which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (Financial Services Register Number 594155). It is a company registered in England, number 08284862.

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The value of your investment can go down as well as up, and you can get back less than you originally invested. Past performance or any yields quoted should not be considered reliable indicators of future returns. Prevailing tax rates and relief are dependent on individual circumstances and are subject to change.

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