Welcome to our Investment Update for April 2021.
We attach an investment dashboard which shows the performance of sectors over the past month and new items which show sector performance from the start of the year to date.
UK Overview March 2021
It seems a remarkably long time ago but March in the UK started with Chancellor Rishi Sunak presenting his Budget as he started to plot an economic recovery from the pandemic and pay the bill for the commitment to ‘do whatever it takes’ to protect jobs and businesses.
The Chancellor defended his Budget as, “Not popular, but honest.” Predictably, though, it was the bill for the pandemic – and the consequent tax rises – that captured most of the headlines. With tax thresholds frozen for five years, millions of us will end up paying more tax. ‘Sunak’s five-year tax grab’ said the Telegraph headline, with many commentators pointing out that tax levels are now at their highest since the 1960s.
A snap poll for YouGov showed that the majority of people backed the Chancellor’s measures, and – with the UK vaccine roll-out proceeding rapidly – the Government is comfortably ahead in the opinion polls.
In the wider UK economy there was the usual bad news on jobs as travel agent Tui announced it would close 48 shops and the Government turned down Liberty Steel’s request for a £170m bailout despite fears for 5,000 jobs.
Despite all this, the Bank of England said that the economic outlook for the UK remained ‘unusually uncertain’. Government borrowing hitting another record in February, borrowing for the month was £19.1bn, the highest figure for the month since records began in 1993. We can all understand the Bank’s caution. But consumers were rather more optimistic. Confidence surged to a 12 month high in March and estate agents reported house buyers ‘at record levels.’
March was generally a good month for world stock markets, and the FT-SE 100 index of leading shares followed this trend. It rose 4% to close the month at 6,714. The pound was down 1% against the dollar in the month and finished March trading at $1.3804.