Stocks have hit record highs in the US and have recovered strongly here too, but many UK shares are now as cheap as they've been since May after a poor few days.
Investors have moved risk averse for the moment, as a number of persistent concerns weigh on sentiment.
In the US, for example, the stubborn presence of the Delta variant of Covid-19 has led to some switching from growth stocks, such as big tech into defensives like healthcare and utilities, as various levels of lockdown continue in many parts of Asia, threatening to defer the global economic recovery.
Meanwhile, consumer confidence fell in July on inflation concerns, while this week will provide the first part of an acid test on the domestic corporate story. With expectations extremely high, and with some predicting the strongest growth rate since the tail end of the great financial crisis in 2009, there is perhaps more scope for disappointment rather than positive surprise.
The likes of Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX), Twitter (NYSE:TWTR), Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO), Verizon (NYSE:VZ), AT&T (NYSE:T), American Express (NYSE:AXP) and Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) will each give indications of whether the high hopes were justified, and whether the performance against an unchallenging quarter from the previous year will maintain the strong momentum seen in the first quarter.
- US results preview: Q2 2021
- Top 20 most-bought US stocks so far this year
- Are US stocks fast approaching peak earnings?
Despite the pause for breath, the main indices remain strongly ahead in the year to date, with the Dow Jones having added 13.3%, the S&P500 15.2% and the Nasdaq 11.9%.
There has also been some weakness in the oil price as oil cartel “OPEC+” announced that there will be a phasing out of significant production cuts by September 2022, with increases in supply due in August. However, this has not been enough to derail significant appreciation on the basis of an imminent and expected spike in demand, with the oil price remaining up by 41% so far this year.
The general breadth of economic concerns has inevitably spread to the UK market, with the likes of the oil and mining sectors under pressure within the premier index on fears of slowing growth. At the same time, stocks caught in the reopening trade such as the travel sector continue to be volatile even after the easing of some international restrictions, as time begins to run down on a potential 2021 return to widespread tourism.
The more domestically focused FTSE250 has held up reasonably well, helped along by a surprisingly resilient performance from the UK economy thus far, with the index having added 9% in the year to date. Meanwhile, the FTSE100 remains ahead by 7.3%, with the more recent stalling of progress likely to add to its attraction as an investment destination on valuation grounds, as compared to many of its global peers.
These articles are provided for information purposes only. Occasionally, an opinion about whether to buy or sell a specific investment may be provided by third parties. The content is not intended to be a personal recommendation to buy or sell any financial instrument or product, or to adopt any investment strategy as it is not provided based on an assessment of your investing knowledge and experience, your financial situation or your investment objectives. The value of your investments, and the income derived from them, may go down as well as up. You may not get back all the money that you invest. The investments referred to in this article may not be suitable for all investors, and if in doubt, an investor should seek advice from a qualified investment adviser.
Full performance can be found on the company or index summary page on the interactive investor website. Simply click on the company's or index name highlighted in the article.