July saw a hotchpotch of news of all shapes and sizes.
Poor baby Charlie Gard caught the world’s attention. I feel terrible for the parents, and also somewhat indignant about the hysterical coverage of the doctors and judges involved. But from this blog’s point of view none of this is relevant so I will move on.
In the UK, pay was high on the agenda. First of all with the post-election focus on the 1% public sector pay cap, now well below inflation. Later in the month the BBC disclosed its highest paid staff, with a predictable fuss ensuing about an apparent gender pay gap. Meanwhile, across the pond Mr Bezos briefly became the world’s richest man, a rather less impressive fact when you consider how much more his gazillionaire rivals Buffett and Gates have supported charity and some of the astounding results the Bill & Melinda Gates is achieving (in part thanks to Buffett’s donated billions).
From a market point of view, what’s been going on? The below-inflation pay cap bodes well for corporate earnings but badly for wider society. And Bezos’s 15 minutes of fame stemmed from continued boom for USA tech stocks, as well as the wider markets. I only have a couple of the FAANGs in my portfolio but I’m not complaining. USA equities were up over 1%, with UK and Oz markets rising a bit too.
In the currency markets, the pound and the US dollar both fell. The Euro and the Aussie dollar both gained over 3% against the pound and dollar. Accordingly, European equities fell around 2% – this is a similar effect I think to what happens with the globally-exposed FTSE-100 when the pound gyrates. The more domestically-focused Australian equity market managed to rise despite a strengthening Australian dollar.
The bond markets in July saw little to report.
Weighted by my target exposure, the markets rose around 0.5% in their local currencies. The currencies, again weighted to suit my target, rose against the pound too – by almost 1% on average. So the market I’m benchmarketing against, the total of these, was up about 1.3% as measured in GBP.
Against the benchmark’s gain of 1.3%, how did I do myself? I said last month how the sharp currency drop at the end of June looked likely to be reversed, and if that happened I’d expect a July bounce of over 1%. That’s basically what happened. My investment portfolio gained about 1.8%. This beat the market by about half a point.
My one year returns are still almost 15%. The Brexit effect has been almost as drawn-out as it is enormous.
For July, that’s about it. My portfolio loan held steady, and it remains a priority of mine to reduce my leverage. I’m a little overweight on fixed income, and a little underweight on UK, and this feels as it should be.