From GDPR to Brexit, 2018 has certainly produced its fair share of challenges in the business world. But happily, it’s also been a time of successes in the South West. We spoke to businesses across a range of sectors to find out how 2018 went for them… and what they are (and aren’t) looking forward to in 2019.
Today we interview Mike Ingram, chief market strategist at WHIreland Wealth Management.
How was 2018?
We certainly came into 2018 on a high. Economic momentum was very positive pretty much everywhere and earnings momentum was following. We were under no illusions that we would see a repeat of the 2017 ‘melt up’ but it seemed that further modest gains in risk markets were quite possible during the course of 2018. Although companies have largely delivered thus far, markets have clearly repriced, spurred by a more aggressive US Federal Reserve, crystallising political risk and the prospective knock-on into economic activity. October was a horrible month for equity markets, with the biggest decline in over six years. Much of this was indiscriminate. We would certainly hope that marks the low for the year.
Looking ahead to 2019…
We believe it’s going to remain choppy. Central banks are set to continue tightening monetary policy and political risk is real and, in Europe at least, appears to be growing. That’s a challenging combination. Closer to home we still have Brexit to deal with. That all said, both company earnings and economic growth remains reasonably robust, so valuation support should continue building. Perhaps one of the biggest unknowns is how this sometimes noisy environment will impact consumer sentiment, investment and employment. It’s not actually that difficult to talk yourself into a real downturn.
One issue which we suspect has not been given sufficient airtime by investors is inflation. Despite the odd scare, it has remained a dog that hasn’t barked. Should we start to see a meaningful pickup on that front – and US Federal Reserve is clearly leading the charge here – then this could potentially introduce another destabilising element into the market landscape.
WHIreland works across the South West from their regional office in Bristol. They offer financial advise, wealth management, commercial and institutional broking. Visit them online here.
Read the Business Exchange Swindon & Wiltshire online this Wednesday (December 19, 2018) to see how business was this year for local human resources firm HR Dept.