December returns and 2019 review

The UK election already seems some time ago. Really, it was just last month, and mid month too. And it provided welcome clarity – I will say that for it – after several years of frustration. For all the hyperventilating Brexit nonsense, citing ‘enemies of the people’, ‘a treasonous Speaker’, parliament undermining democracy etc, the root cause of much of the last few years’ nonsense was the lack of a majority in Parliament. Parliamentary sovereignty is supreme, and is delegated to the government/executive by a clear majority. All else is noise.

And much as I am no fan of the Tories and the Tory Brexit, the improvement in mood / confidence / sense of clouds lifting after the election result was palpable. The dimwit forex markets lifted the pound above $1.35, before dumping it back where it started once they came to their senses. By the end of the month though sterling had climbed 1-2% against the USD/EUR.

GBP/USD and GBP/EUR since 1 Nov 2019 to 3 Jan 2020

Elsewhere, we saw the new EU commission take over, the USA/China trade war rumble on, and some nasty early season bush fires take root in Australia.

And amidst all this noise, equity markets rose. The UK market grew the fastest, bouyed by the election result presumably; both European and USA markets also saw good gains, admittedly mostly cancelled out by their currencies falling against the pound. Only Australia was the outlier, with a drop in its ‘share market’ somewhat mitigated by the rise in the AUD.

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Nov 2019: another great month for equities

That USA stock market just keeps on climbing. No matter what you read about Trump’s impeachment, US/China trade wars, US/France trade wars, etc – just check out below the light blue line showing S&P500 over 10 years.

S&P500 and FTSE-100 indices, over 10 years

In contrast the FTSE-100 (and, in fairness, the Eurostoxx 50) has been fairly rangebound for the last three years. The FTSE-100 at least delivers over 3% in dividends (not included in the index shown above), but I’d take the S&P’s combination of much higher growth, somewhat lower dividends, any day of the week.

Pity those short sellers like @WheelieDealer who have been calling Time on the S&P.

Remember: markets being at All Time Highs (ATHs) do NOT tell you they are due to fall. Stock markets have better-than-average businesses in them, and better-than-average businesses grow. All things being equal, stock markets therefore grow.

In fact it’s not just stock markets that grow. Bonds had an OK month too. Most of my bond ETFs are significantly down on their record highs, but they had an OK November.

Even the pound had an OK month, gaining over both AUD and the EURo.

Taking into account my weightings, how markets moved and how currencies rose/fell, my weighted market average saw an increase of 2.8%.

My own portfolio moved almost exactly in line with the weighted average. The year is proving to be pretty awesome, from an investment standpoint. Let’s hope December (which as I write this, is already looking like a negative month) doesn’t do too much damage to the year’s returns.

October 2019: a lousy month

October looked kind of fine, for key equity markets, in local currencies. The S&P hit record highs, for no particularly obvious reason. The the Europe (ex UK) MSCI index went up almost 3%.

However the big news in October was the pound, which rose against everybody. Against the USD, it was up 5%.

So in pound terms, the major overseas equity markets fell.

How about the UK FTSE market? Sadly that fell too, by almost 2%.

Bonds fell off a little bit too, almost everywhere.

So from a pound investor point of view, there was basically nothing going up this month. The markets + forex average (for my weighted alloocation) was -2.4%.

Against a weighted market average of -2.4%, my own portfolio‘s drop of 1.6% must be something to be thankful for. Sigh.