Market Overview – 25/08/2020

An unexpectedly sharp rise in US business activity surveys and further evidence of better housing activity helped the broad US market to a record closing high on Friday. Bets that certain ‘growth’ technology companies will emerge stronger post-COVID has propelled US tech indices higher; another 3% gain last week making 27% year-to-date. Contrast this move with big ‘value’ sectors such as financials and energy which continue to be saddled with structural as well as cyclical issues, not least near zero nominal rates and negative real yields. Markets heavily exposed to these sectors will likely continue to lag, such as the UK which was down 1% on the week. However, as a couple of large ‘old’ US retailers showed this week investment in ‘new’ digital technology systems can help capture the evolving pattern of consumer spending. With the corporate earnings season now done there is a lull before the return to school and usual September year-to-date reviews but COVID and policy actions still appear to hold the key to H2 equity performance.