- Markets: Global equity markets ended the week with a positive return of 0.6%. The star performers within that number were Asia ex Japan at 2.3% & Emerging Markets at 2.1%. US equities were flat at 0%, with Europe up 0.7%. Global bonds ended the week virtually flat at +0.1%, but year to date are up 0.9%.
- UK Politics: A total of 9 (to date) Labour MPs have quit their party and joined with several Conservative MPs to form a new Independent Political Group. Separately, dozens of normally loyal Conservative MPs could rebel against the government in a bid to prevent a "no-deal" Brexit. Fitch have also put the UK on formal rating downgrade warning, citing risks the country could leave the EU without an agreement in place.
- Trade War: China-US trade talks were in focus on Friday as the Chinese vice-premier was set to meet US President Donald Trump in Washington. After starting out in negative territory, Chinese stocks turned higher in afternoon trading and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng also rose.
- US Data: US Fed President Daly called for patience on rate increases, stating that the US was very near neutral rate of interest. This was backed up by the release of the Fed's January meeting minutes which affirmed a stunning policy U-turn and one that has succeeded in calming financial markets after a torrid end to 2018.
- EU Data: In Germany, business confidence slid to its lowest level since December 2014 in the latest sign of weakness in the Eurozone’s largest economy. The fall was driven by the current economic conditions and the country’s future outlook, according to the latest business climate index.
- Sterling: GBP slipped under $1.30 on Friday, as investor confidence appeared to wane as the week wore on without positive developments and the UK edged closer to March 29th without a deal.
European commercial real estate investment volumes reached a record high of €312 billion in 2018, a very slight increase on the previous year (€311 billion).
In the largest 3 markets, an upturn in French and German investment volumes more than compensated for a slight decline in UK, while in the next tier Spain and Netherlands also provided a significant boost, offsetting weakness in Italy and Sweden. France was one of 5 markets to set a record for annual transaction volumes in 2018, the others being Netherlands, Portugal and Spain. All 3 countries saw very significant increases in alternative (defined as not retail, office or industrial) investment volumes, of 50-80%. Indeed, alternative volumes as a whole saw a strong rise in 2018. Alternatives investment volume in Europe has now more than doubled in the space of just 5 years. Source: CBRE
- Europe: Markit Eurozone Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index, Unemployment Ret data and Economic Confidence survey are due to be released.
- US: A busy week for the US, with a raft of data set to be released including Wholesale Inventories, Housing Starts, Consumer Confidence, Retail / Wholesale Inventories, Factory Orders, Durable Goods and Growth figures.
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