Global financial markets have been negatively impacted by the recent outbreak of the coronavirus, an infectious and potentially deadly respiratory disease. Thought to have originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan, there have been just under 3,000 confirmed cases, with 80 fatalities (at the time of writing.) There are obvious similarities with SARS, which broke out around seventeen years ago.
We saw another strong week for stock markets last week with Alphabet (parent company of Google) joining the list of US companies worth more than a trillion dollars. The others – Microsoft, Amazon and Apple – have also had a good time of late, with investors favouring tech companies with strong growth prospects.
Tensions surrounding the assassination of Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani intensified early last week, with retaliatory missile attacks on two US bases in Iraq. Thankfully, there were no casualties and President Trump downplayed the incident.
The victory for Boris Johnson and the UK Conservative Party was largely anticipated by markets (sterling made most of its upward move weeks before the election) but the scale of the win was not.
A rally in domestic-focused shares such as utilities, financials and housebuilders on Friday largely reflected the reduced political risk over the next few years resulting from such a commanding majority.