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4Q 2019 Market and Economic Overview

Equity markets in the final quarter of the year, and indeed that of the decade, regained their mojo as it became clear that the tariffs that had been threatened to be imposed by Trump on Chinese imports on the 15th December would not be applied, or at worst be further deferred. By the close of the quarter, the MSCI World Equity Index had gained 8.76% and was broadly representative of major market performances with the UK being the notable underperformer at +1.8%. Following the November FED interest rate cut (and clear communication that the interest rate setting committee was ‘done’ until post the next US Presidential election), the markets rallied in relief of having some certainty (or better put, of having one element of uncertainty removed). This effectively cornered the US President in that, for a leader who measures the success of his tenure by stock market gains, he could not, for once, use the strength of the markets to ratchet up the pressure on China. Looking back over the course of the year, it can be postulated that every time the markets looked strong, Trump pushed the Chinese hard, emboldened by the reassurance that the American Central Bank was in monetary easing mode where further interest rate cuts would continue to support his domestic economy and trade agenda. Of course, every time the markets had looked weak, he backed off and Tweeted soothing words of conciliation. Without the assurance that the FED ‘had his back’, he could no longer afford to go on the offensive and demand further concessions from China, or reading between the lines, with the US election less than a year away, he could not afford to risk a significant sell-off in the markets if he wanted to get re-elected. The ‘Phase One’ deal announced around the weekend of the 15th December (which still remains to “Far more money has been lost by investors preparing for corrections, or trying to anticipate corrections, than has been lost in corrections themselves.” Peter Lynch Peter Lynch 2 be signed) together with the concurrent abandonment of the tariffs set to go into effect that weekend was almost a non-event as it was so clearly expected

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