The end of June brought with it the end of the first half of this calendar year. This week I take a look back over the period since 1 January and consider the relative attractions of the UK market.
Stock markets suffered their first meaningful fall for nearly two years at the start of the year. Having hit a peak of approximately 7800 in January, the FTSE 100 fell nearly 12% to a 12-month low of just under 6900 in late March. Since then, stock markets have promptly recovered and again sit close to all-time highs.
Despite this, the UK stock market is stubbornly out-of-favour with global investors thanks to the political uncertainties of Brexit and the threat of a left-wing government coming into power with a mandate to hike taxes and nationalise large parts of the economy. Indeed, global investors have clearly taken a consensus underweight position on the FTSE, which is arguably at its most unloved point in decades relative to other developed stock markets.
On the one hand this is frustrating for UK investors, but on the other hand it is re-assuring; looking forward, it seems to us that the UK stock market offers very attractive relative value for long-term investors. The FTSE 100, for example, currently yields approximately 3.8%; in contrast, the yield offered by the S&P is 500 is a miserly 1.9%. Moreover, it is important to remember that the UK economy is not the same as the UK stock market. There is some overlap, but it is far less deep than most people assume. The domestic macroeconomics of the UK has very little to do with the collection of international businesses the make up the UK stock market. To this extent, the UK stock market provides a natural hedge against any woes that befall the UK economy.