The UK FTSE 100 – a collection of the largest 100 companies listed on the London Exchange – ended 2017 on a record high: the blue chip index finished Friday’s trading at 7,687.77. Overall, a +7.6% gain on the year. The FTSE 250 performed rather better, finishing Friday at more than 20,700, up +14.7%.
The FTSE’s +7.6% rise though looks close to feeble compared to other stock market performances. Asian and US shares have done particularly well this year with some approaching +40% gains. For example, the Hang Seng ended 2017 more than +36% higher. Yet in the background lurks regular warnings on out-of-hand valuations.
One flip side of surging stock markets look less than welcome for some: Goldman Sachs now anticipates it will take a $5bn blow from Donald Trump’s new re-organised tax code. Fourth quarter profits will be hit due to a new tax on profits overseas.
Elsewhere the pound has surged against a defensive dollar, up +0.46%, pushing past the 1.35 handle to 1.3513 mid-afternoon, Friday. The euro was more resilient, down just -0.07% against the pound to 0.8875.
- UK FTSE 100 7,687.77 +0.85%
- DAX 12,914.64 -0.48%
- CAC 40 5,329.58 -0.18%
- Dow 24,823.05 -0.07%
- S&P 500 2,685.78 -0.07%
- Nasdaq 6,935.51 -0.21%
- Nikkei 225 22,764.94 -0.08%
- Gold 1,305.00 +0.61%
- Oil WTI 60.05 +0.33%
FTSE performance pales in comparison to other bourses and...Bitcoin
While the fall in the value of sterling has helped many big British companies – most earn sizeable revenues overseas – the FTSE 100’s overall +7.6% gain is thin pickings generally. Even compared to the German Dax, which soared +12.8% this year. In Tokyo the Japanese Nikkei finished the year close to 22,770, up +19% overall.
Looking across to oil, more production cuts from OPEC and growing demand can only push prices up currently, it appears. Not so long ago oil analysts were predicting a $55 average oil price for 2018. That has now pushed a dollar higher, hemmed in modestly by increased shale output.
Then the B-word – Bitcoin. Going from around $930 a year ago to just short of $20,000 was an investment story that stunned most. Currently – late afternoon, Friday – Bitcoin is valued at $14,569. Having depreciated -36% in the last 12 days Bitcoin seems somewhat adrift. This new ‘floor’ could be the launchpad for a rebound. Or the start of the end. Many are increasingly sticking to the former.
HMRC says No to credit card payments
Bad news for self-employed people paying their January tax bill on the never-never. HMRC has put in a cut-off of 13 January. In other words, if you want to use plastic, you’ve got a bit over two weeks to settle your affairs.
However the restriction is limited to personal credit cards. Business and corporate cards aren’t affected. More than 9m people are set to settle their tax arrangements by 31 January.
Breaking news: President Trump has urged the US Postal Service to raise Amazon's shipping rates.