In recent years, environmental, social and governance (ESG) investment products have exploded in popularity. The problem, however, is no one is quite sure what counts as an environmentally or socially ethical company.
While UK shares suffered their worst year since the financial crisis in terms of price returns in 2018, companies paid a record amount in dividends, totalling almost £100 billion in headline terms, according to Link Asset Services’ Dividend Monitor for the final quarter of last year.
MSCI, the global provider of stock market indices, has gloomily predicted that if Brexit takes the form of a no-deal, UK shares could fall as much as 25%.
As part of its stress test analysis MSCI took into account the Bank of England’s Brexit study, which assumes an 8% GDP contraction and 25% devaluation of the pound against the US dollar in a no-deal scenario.
Investors are often at their happiest when prices are high. While their portfolio may be full of expensive and overvalued shares, those high prices translate into pleasing paper profits, for a while at least.
However, investors with anything other than a short term time horizon should take the opposite view.
Last night, prime minister Theresa May suffered a historic defeat in Parliament, with a massive 432 to 202 MPs voting against the prime minister’s proposed European Union withdrawal deal. May’s defeat means that the outline of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU – officially scheduled for 29 March – remains unclear.
What caused the US market to fall out of form at the end of 2018?
The question itself is not merely academic. While forecasting the market often leads to conclusions more wrong than right, understanding what has just driven investors previously to sell out of their positions usually offers some clue as to what else the market has in store.
Witan has announced that it will be shutting down its investment trust savings and Isa schemes, representing up to £420 million in assets under management.
At present, Witan has around 16,000 retail investors with either regular savings plans or Isas in its two trusts: Witan and Witan Pacific. These accounts are due to close on May 2019.
Annual house price growth slowed to its slowest pace since February 2013, the latest house price index figures from Nationwide show. In contrast to annual growth of 2.6% in 2017, house prices grew by just 0.5% in 2018. At the same time, month-on-month figures from November to December 2018 fell by 0.7% after taking into account seasonal factors.
Active funds that invest in shares have a slightly higher gross performance than their passive investment counterparts, according to the European Securities and Markets Authority’s (ESMA) first annual report on cost and performance of retail investment products.