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Investment Update 09.04.2020

9th April 2020

Last week brought to an end one of the most extraordinary months we have ever seen, not just with investment markets, but with the staying at home and distancing measures introduced.  Probably only those that lived through the war will have experienced anything quite like this.  

The efforts of global central banks and government treasury departments have combined to help markets recover from the widespread and deep falls of mid-March.  Although hard to measure, it is felt that the selling pressure that produced the quickest ever collapse has now largely exhausted itself.  A basis for recovery could not be established until these elements had come together and that fact that they have all happened so quickly is a welcome positive.   

Last week saw some pockets of normality appearing in certain markets, albeit those where central banks have been heavily investing.  Some of the stronger companies are able to refinance and whilst some of the weaker industries, such as cruise ships, are getting together rescue packages although at some cost.   

Whilst the early and aggressive measures have been necessary to help stabilise markets following the enormous shock the coronavirus epidemic has brought with it, those measures will not be enough on their own. For a more sustainable recovery there will need to be a peak in coronavirus infection rates so that a more accurate reflection of the economic damage cause by social distancing can be factored in. Until that time, we will be bombarded with statistics reminding us of the damage that is being done.  One such statistic is that around 10 million Americans have filed jobless claims in the last two weeks.   

It is expected that infection rates will peak around the end of April/early May, allowing Western economies at least to formulate some form of recovery by the summer.  Perhaps forgotten amongst all of this is that there continues to be an oil crisis which is still rumbling on and causing problems with commodity markets.  There are rumours that OPEC are trying to organise a virtual meeting of oil ministers this week and there are signs that a truce could be called between the warring parties.  If this happens it could give some stability to emerging markets and a ripple effect elsewhere.  

History and experience tell us that there is not just one indicator of a bottom of a market after a crisis.  There are usually several indicators that together have sufficient weight to cancel out the negatives.  At the moment we are in the period where those factors are beginning to gel together but not yet a strong enough force but momentum is beginning to build and create investment opportunities. 

As we said last week, we are in constant touch with our investment Partners either through phone calls or what is becoming a way of life, video conferencing calls. Modern technology enables them to continue managing the funds and make trades as though everything is operating normally. There is a sense now that they see opportunities to invest, albeit with a sense of cautious optimism.

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