May Market Commentary

Introduction

It’s difficult to know where to begin this month. In France? Where we now know the French Presidential election will be a straight fight between Emmanuel Macron and Marine le Pen. In the UK? Where, having declared several times that she saw no need for a General Election, Theresa May summoned everyone to the polls on 8th June. Or in North Korea? Where the simmering tensions between Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump threaten peace and stability in the region.

Politically, the world was a volatile place in April – but the world’s major stock markets reacted with studied indifference. The French index was the biggest gainer, up 3% in the expectation of a victory for Macron on 7th May. Two markets – the UK and China were down by 2% – and the rest inched ever-so-slightly upwards.

New tax year – limits and allowances

Plan early

Why not use your ISA and Pension allowances now rather than waiting until March 2018, any growth achieved will at least be growing virtually tax free.

ISAs

Remember that the ISA allowance has been increased from £15,240 to £20,000 per individual from the 6th April 2017.

The allowances for a Junior ISA / Chid Trust Fund have increased by £48.00 to £4,128 per child.

Theresa May calls surprise early election

During a surprise announcement outside Downing Street on the morning of 18th April, Theresa May set the date of the next UK general election as the 8th June 2017, almost three full years before the previously expected date of May 2020.

Delivering the statement revealing the move, Mrs May said that the early general election would further deliver the ‘certainty, stability and strong leadership’, which she said the Conservative party had offered since the referendum on Britain’s EU membership. The Prime Minister elaborated to say that, ‘the country was coming together, but Westminster was not’, a reference to the fact that, despite the referendum result, the Conservatives still face opposition within Parliament on what so-called ‘Brexit’ should look like, or even whether it should still take place at all.

April Market Commentary

Introduction

It’s tempting to think that Brexit is the only story worth reporting: in fact, there was plenty happening in March, from elections in Holland to a rate rise in the US, new growth targets for China and – also in the Chinese capital – a park which spectacularly failed to live up to its name…

The main global news was that finance ministers from the world’s biggest economies have dropped an anti-protectionism commitment after opposition from the US. G20 ministers usually end their meetings with a commitment to bolster and support free trade and last year vowed to “resist all forms of protectionism.” That was, of course, before we had President Trump and his ‘America First’ policy…

Our Year in Review – 2016/17

Cullen Wealth have just passed the end of our 19th year of being in business.

We have had another solid year, seeing substantial growth in client numbers, the assets we advise upon, and annual turnover (up 12%).

We thought you might be interested to see a quick snapshot of some of our headline numbers, giving you a sense of where we are up to at the end of March 2017 – click here.

Brexit Begins…

Prime Minister Theresa May has formally triggered Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty marking the start of two years of negotiations.

Please click here for our summary of the likely next steps both in the UK and in Europe and  what the impact may be on the UK economy.

Financial Protection – Peace of Mind

How will your family manage if you are seriously ill, can’t work, or should you pass away unexpectedly?

Providing protection for your family should be the number one financial priority for all of us, yet it is so often overlooked.  Just pause for a minute, and ask yourself how your family would cope with their finances if you or your partner:-

• Couldn’t work for an extended period?

• Were to pass away?

The Budget, Tax Year End & Easter

It is unusual for us to report that the Chancellor has not meddled further with savings and pensions in his Spring Budget held on the 8 March. We have become accustomed to regular change but there was very little to report this time round. We can probably expect Phillip Hammond to do his meddling in the Autumn Budget in November.

Tax Year End Reminder

The end of the tax year is approaching fast, remember 5 April is the last day of this current tax year.

Below are some of the points you should consider and act on if necessary, by 5 April:

The key findings of the Spring Budget 2017 summarised here…

So the last Spring Budget was delivered to Parliament yesterday. Before you get too excited, though, no, that wasn’t the last Budget ever. It will just occur in the autumn from now on…

Prior to the speech, it was difficult to make any clear predictions. The Chancellor had conceded, in his Autumn Statement, that filling the ‘black hole’ of the nation’s finances would be a major challenge and that forecasting over the next five years was going to be even more difficult than normal. The ongoing discussions about Brexit and Article 50 have only added to that uncertainty.

March Market Commentary

Introduction

Last month was the month when it was almost impossible to keep up with the stories coming out of the White House.  Normally as I make notes for this commentary through the month I end up – not surprisingly – with far more notes about the UK than anywhere else.  That was BT – Before Trump.  Now there are so many stories coming from the US – some real and some fitting the new description of ‘fake news’ – that it’s hard to find the important stories among the background noise.

What’s undeniable is that the economic initiatives from the new President and his team have been warmly welcomed on Wall Street.  As we’ll see below, the Dow Jones index enjoyed a successful month – as did the vast majority of the markets we cover in this commentary.