Mr Trump’s approach to world trade remains enigmatic. At the end of August, it was announced that a trade deal between the US and Mexico had been agreed, in effect replacing the previous NAFTA proposal which included Canada. Whether or not Canada will join in remains to be seen but markets have taken the Mexico agreement as being indicative of a willingness to, in the end, compromise. In the meantime, China is in effect pumping money into its economy to help offset trade deal concerns, raising borrowing levels there.
The rising dollar is having a clear negative impact on a number of emerging markets, particularly in respect of countries with large deficits and political uncertainties. One reason for this is that the cost of servicing dollar denominated debt increases as that currency strengthens relative to others. We are less concerned about the impact on better managed emerging economies, on companies operating within those economies and therefore on well managed emerging market funds: here we sense a buying opportunity.
On Brexit, while the Cabinet still appears to support the so called Chequers plan, it is at present hard to see this being accepted elsewhere, on either side of the Channel. We remain cautious on UK facing assets, noting that in particular, this does not include investment in the UK’s largest companies as many derive three quarters of their profit and turnover from their overseas activities, giving them protection in large measure from UK specific problems. Here, investment is recommended. Smaller companies in the UK, with a greater UK focus, are a greater risk although, to an extent share values have already moved to discount for this. Our biggest Brexit related concern, from an economic standpoint, is that growth in the UK after Brexit will continue to lag its peer group, with unsettling consequences for government finances, potentially adversely impacting interest rates, damaging fixed interest valuations in the process. This leads us to be cautious on the fixed interest sector.