Brexit And The Investor

Brexit will be formally triggered this week under Article 50 , paving the way for the 2 year process which will see the United Kingdom withdraw from the political and economic union of Europe.

Until negotiations are actually being hammered out and we can assess the likelihood of a hard Brexit, it’s hard to say. But there are some pointers to bear in mind.

On the one hand, the bull run continues unabated. The FTSE 100 index is in record territory, at well over 7,400 at time of writing. Clearly investors are hanging on in there in the absence of obvious alternatives or a decisive reason to pull out of the markets.

Undoubtedly, the big fall guy is sterling. The pound has been taking the hits in terms of reactions to Brexit developments and it’s likely to remain the tool markets will use when it comes to expressing a view on how the Brexit negotiations are going and what triggering Article 50 will ultimately mean.

‘Sterling’s slide from $1.49 to barely $1.22 since the EU referendum vote has acted as a shock absorber for the UK economy, potentially helping exports become more competitive,’ says Russ Mould of broker AJBell.

The question is how much uncertainty has already been priced into sterling’s value. The trouble is that it’s very difficult to know how far current currency levels do take account of the enormous Brexit question mark hanging over the country.

Many analysts expect the coming months to see further falls, with a low of $1.15 predicted, for instance, by Kamal Sharma at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. But others, such as Capital Economics, believe it could fall further, perhaps as low as $1.05, as the likelihood of Britain exiting the EU without a deal in place gains traction.

So, as a starting point, which asset classes are most likely to prosper?

Fixed income: Although the traditional response to uncertainty has been to de-risk by buying bonds, it makes little sense in the current environment.

Ten-year gilts are still yielding only 1.25%, even after the sell-off from low near 0.5% last summer. That amounts to an investment loss in real terms if inflation is set to remain above 2% for the medium term, as the BoE predicts.

Equities: Unlike most bonds, stocks have the potential for inflation-beating growth and also higher dividend income payouts. Moreover, although the Brexit uncertainties hardly make for a climate of prosperity, there remain many fundamentally attractive, well-run businesses. Some are now expensive, but others are pretty cheap.

For canny stockpickers, the current politically driven dynamics provide interesting opportunities. Long-term investors may be able to pick up good investments to buy and hold, while traders can exploit short-term market movements on bad news or political tension – of which there’s likely to be plenty more.

So, on the assumption that the main consequence of Article 50 being triggered that can be identified at this stage is that sterling will likely weaken further, what routes are worth exploring?

Cheerio

The Pinstripe and Bowler Club shares information with MF Solutions Ltd

Brexit Update

The trigger of Article 50 is the event traders have been waiting for since the U.K. voted to leave the European Union. Yet as Prime Minister Theresa May approaches her end-March deadline for launching Brexit, there is no consensus on what it means for markets.

The pound has slumped 18 percent and the country’s benchmark equities index has rallied about 16 percent since the June 23 referendum. While currency and stock volatility is now calmer ahead of the talks, some analysts are warning markets are too complacent in expecting a smooth path toward an agreement.

Is Article 50 already baked into sterling?
No, says Bank of America Merrill Lynch. “We reject the notion that sterling has fully priced Article 50 and beyond. Risks to the currency remain to the downside on a disruptive start to negotiations,” strategists including Kamal Sharma said in a note to clients on March 2, adding they see a dip before a recovery into the end of the year.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. is also bearish. It recommended on March 3 selling the pound against the dollar at 1.2250, with a stop at 1.2530, as it sees the currency as the most over-valued in the Group-of-10 and investor confidence as vulnerable.

Bank of America’s preferred strategy is to bet on greater swings in the pound, rather than its direction. It has recommended buying three-month forward volatility, a measure of expected swings, with a target for it to gain around 20 percent from current levels. Societe Generale SA also sees opportunity in options, as it expects two-month implied volatility to pick up if cable falls below $1.20.

Meanwhile, Morgan Stanley is more sanguine and thinks the triggering of Article 50 shouldn’t come as a major surprise. “There may be many Article 50-related news headlines in the coming weeks but we believe that a lot of the negativity around Brexit-related economic data weakness is already in the price,” strategists led by Hans Redeker said in a March 2 note.

The bank initiated a long sterling versus the euro trade recommendation last month and is targeting a move to 0.8000, as it sees political risks in the euro zone remaining high.

What are key things to watch during negotiations?

The key question is whether economics or populist politics dominate the negotiations, according to Bank of America economist Robert Wood. It should become apparent relatively early into the formal talks that the U.K. is on course for a harder Brexit, with all of the economic disruption that leaving Europe’s single market is likely to entail, according to JPMorgan.

Traders will focus on what the process means for the financial services industry, a key contributor to the economy, and any signs that banking or broader investment is being relocated out of the U.K. could potentially have a negative effect on the currency, said Viraj Patel, a London-based strategist at ING Groep NV.

ING says it’s worth watching the level of foreign ownership of U.K. bonds as a gauge of sentiment. Foreign ownership of U.K. bonds has slipped in the past two months and “if this becomes a six-month theme that’s telling you something,” said ING strategist Patel.

Cheerio

The Pinstripe and Bowler Club shares information with MF Solutions Ltd