Weekly Client Update – Friday, 12th February

In Jersey more than 21,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccine have now been administered to Islanders, the Government has confirmed. Latest data revealed yesterday showed that Jersey passed the 20,000 mark in its vaccination programme last weekend, reaching a total of 21,007 by the end of Sunday. More than 17,000 have received their first dose of the vaccine with a further 3,000 having received both jabs.

The Island’s progress equates to 19.5 doses given for every 100 people, and compares with figures from other jurisdictions at the same date. The Uk has 18.9 cases per 100, with the USA on 12.5 and the EU lagging behind on 3.9. Israel remains the country with the highest figure globally with 64.9 per 100 people.

Jersey’s head of the vaccination programme, Becky Sherrington said she was incredibly proud to have passed this mark with 94% of care home residents, 96% of over 80’s and 88% of those aged 75 to 79 having received their first doses. She continued  “the island remains on track to administer first doses to all over 50’s and anyone classed as being clinically ‘at risk’ by 29 March”. A group of around 9,000 islanders classed as being at risk and aged 16 to 64 are next in line for their vaccinations and should receive a letter from their GP during the coming week.

In today’s Government Press conference the island’s Chief Minister John Le Fondre announced that the Hospitality industry will be allowed to reopen from Monday 22 February to provide a seated only, bar and restaurant service for dining only customers although there is a maximum limit of 10 people. Two metre distancing must be maintained between tables and a maximum time limit of 2 ½ hours will be allowed for any diners. There will also be early closing of all restaurants and other hospitality venues with any last orders by 10pm. Pubs that do not serve meals must remain closed. All staff working in hospitality will be offered a free Covid-19 test available immediately. The Chief Minister commented “Waiting until 22 February to reopen hospitality will give businesses time to prepare the public health requirements they will have to meet and will give us time to discuss their concerns as they prepare to reopen”.

The numbers of people allowed to attend both Weddings & Funerals  and faith gatherings will also be increased from 20 to 40 people from next Wednesday 17 February. Outdoor sports have also been given the green light to start again. Sporting activities will be allowed to recommence using a phased approach starting with the under 18’s (maximum of 35 people) from Wednesday 17 February and for over 18’s from Monday 8 March (Maximum 35 people) however there was further disappointment for gym and dance class members as indoor sporting facilities such as gyms, Hotel Spa’s and dance studios must remain closed until further notice.

Restrictions are to remain in place for homeowners who are being asked not to invite any visitors into their homes.  

In Jersey there were 6 new cases today making a total of 55 active cases of Covid-19 with 2 in hospital whilst in Guernsey the figure has fallen again to 287 with 8 in hospital.

Latest News

In the US, the week saw an incredibly fast decline of GameStop, as momentum behind the stock faltered. Shares of the beleaguered retailer fell by 80%, while the S&P 500 rose 4.7% –  the most of any week since last November. This puts Gamestop almost exactly where it was on Friday, January 22nd, just before the major short squeeze that propelled it upward. 

The recent experience with GameStop highlights the difference between betting and investing. Both involve risk, mitigating risks by diversifying and aligning decisions to goals – no emotions is key. Emotions often prompt an urge to sell when markets decline, in the hope of avoiding a further fall.  Similarly, sizable gains can cloud a proper assessment of risk, raising a desire to chase gains for fear of ‘missing the boat’. It’s good to remember that investing for your long-term financial goals is not an overnight proposition.

The earnings of three businesses hit hard by COVID-19 reported this week –  MGM, Uber and Disney.

All three rely substantially on the  health of the travel and tourism market. MGM has been hit the hardest, with an estimated 59% drop in revenue for 2020. Its entire business is based on combining travel, accommodation and crowded public entertainment. The pandemic has affected Uber’s business in two starkly opposite ways. The decline in travel has enormously cut its taxi segment. On the other hand, Uber’s food delivery business, Uber Eats, has boomed, becoming Uber’s largest segment by revenue. However, this is not enough to pull Uber up as it takes a much smaller margin on its food delivery business. As of Q3 2020, Uber Eats had still not returned a profit.

Disney’s business is more varied, with parts of its business, such as its streaming services and television channels, seeing significant increase from 26 Million subscribers, as of last February, to announcing yesterday that they now have over 94 million subscribers. During the pandemic however, other areas of its business, such as its Parks, Experiences, and Products segment – which includes its theme parks, cruises, and retail stores – have been devastated. Its movie production business has also seen huge revenue declines as COVID-19 has kept theatres closed and movie releases delayed. Despite this, on the back of their report on Thursday, the stock gained 2% 

Stocks and Markets

Monday saw another record-breaking day on Wall Street. US stocks closed at record highs with the NASDAQ100 up 8.5% year-to-date and the SPX500 up by 4.3%. Energy stocks led the SPX500 on the back of oil price gains, with Marathon Oil and Occidental Petroleum both delivering double-digit share price pops. Overall, the SPX500’s energy sector added 4.2% yesterday.  

This week also saw Bitcoin jump to a new record on Tesla’s announcement, revealing that it has bought $1.5 billion in Bitcoin and may start accepting bitcoin as payment soon. Tesla stock moved marginally following the news, while the price of Bitcoin jumped by more than 22% – taking it past the $47,000 mark. Other cryptos followed Bitcoin’s lead, as nearly all of the top 10 showed impressive gains.

Yesterday, medical marijuana firm Organigram, skyrocketed 37.3%, alongside Aurora, which spiked 21.7% and Aphria , which jumped 10.7% to reach a new all-time high. Cannabis stocks have been the focus of many retail investors lately, due to the prospect of legalisation under the Biden administration. 

Meanwhile some good news  in the UK market as Energy, mining stocks helped push up the FTSE, Miner Evraz, oil giant BP and miner Anglo American led the index, with all three up by around 4%. This was probably helped a little by oil making another move up to $58 a barrel  and then plateauing for the rest of the week. Investor optimism was tempered however, by the news that UK consumer spending in January was at its lowest level since spring of last year, with heightened online shopping activity failing to balance out physical store closures in the current lockdown.

Big Tech goes Green

Amazon announced this week that it plans to buy half of the energy produced by a huge new wind farm in the Netherlands. Shell and Eneco secured the right to build the 759 megawatt wind farm in the North Sea last July, and Amazon will purchase 380 MW of its output to power its operations in Europe.  

Benefiting hugely from the recent lockdowns, Amazon has been criticised for increasing pollution with its planes and vans, and for using excessive amounts of cardboard packaging. Amazon now has 187 solar and wind projects worldwide.