Weekly Client Update – Friday, 15th January

Welcome to our first weekly update of 2021. We said in our last newsletter that we would publish monthly updates in 2021 instead of weekly, but due to popular demand we have decided to continue with weekly bulletins until further notice.

Jersey may be one of the sunniest places in the Channel Islands, however, it has been revealed that it now has one of the highest Covid-Linked death rates in the World for an Island nation relative to its population size, although overall, the Island is on track for a 20 year low in the number of people who died in 2020.

When adjusted for population numbers, Jersey’s number of Covid-related’ deaths per million exceeds 500 placing it second only to the United Kingdom, whose mortality rate per million is more than 1,000. The figure was calculated by taking the number of Covid-related deaths per nation divided by the most recent figure per population. This is then multiplied to provide an average ‘Deaths per Million’ figure. With a total of 25 deaths, the Isle of Man has just under 300 deaths per million meanwhile our sister Island Guernsey has a death rate of less than half of Jersey’s having recorded just 13 deaths, its rate per million is 206.

 The teachers union is calling for their members to be prioritised in the que for vaccinations as schools returned on Monday against calls for the reopening to be further delayed. Education Minister Tracy Vallois resigned from Government as she said “her views were being ignored by Government”. Meanwhile Politicians have given some indication under the heading ‘reconnection’ of their staged plans to return to normal life. Assuming Covid Cases continue to fall, non-essential shops may be allowed to open from Monday 25 January with pubs, hotels, restaurants and café’s following (with some restrictions) within a week or two afterwards.

Currently Jersey has 268 positive Covid cases with 5 people being treated in hospital. As of yesterday nearly 5,000 Islanders had received their first vaccination with approximately 1,500 having received both vaccinations. It is anticipated that 49,000 Islanders will have received their first vaccination by 29 March.

Latest News

The main news in the UK has, of course, been the eventual deal with the European Union. It remains to seen just what effect this will have on the Channel Islands

Away from the Brexit negotiations, the UK went into stricter new tiers of Lockdown at the beginning of the month just as the Pfizer vaccine was approved for use. UK Lockdown measures were reported to have ‘battered’ footfall in the run-up to Christmas, with December seeing Bonmarché collapse into administration while Primark reported that the pandemic had wiped £430m off its balance sheet.

Figures for Boxing Day suggested that footfall on one of the busiest shopping days of the year was down 60%, and 2020 was reported to be the worst year for retail job losses for 25 years. 

Government borrowing soared by the end of 2021 to £31.6bn – the highest ever recorded. Inflation fell to just 0.3%.

Was there any good news? Yes – there was plenty of optimism amid the gloom as the Pfizer vaccine started to be rolled out. Three-quarters of SME’s said that they were likely to hire staff next year and City AM reported a Lloyds Bank survey as saying that business confidence was at a nine-month high. Consumer confidence also jumped sharply on news of the vaccine. 

Also surprisingly Ryanair agreed to buy a further 75 new Boeing 737 aircraft, bringing the total number of jets it has ordered to 210 – a major vote of confidence in the future of the aviation and holiday industries. The total value of the deal is $22bn (£16bn). 

The Stock Markets 

In the US Donald Trump became the first ever President to be impeached twice., although there may be a delay in commencing proceedings. Should the impeachment prove successful it would prevent Donald Trump from standing for reelection in the future. By next week the US will have a new President: Joe Biden, but as many of you will have observed, this seismic change in US administration has not been smooth, with images of the storming of the Capital shocking America and the rest of the world as the bastion of democracy and the free world appeared to be under threat. Biden’s challenge will be getting America back to work. The jobless rate did fall from 6.9% to 6.7% last month, but it was believed to be because some people stopped looking for work over the holiday season. 

Airbnb made its debut on the stock market and saw its value exceed $100bn (£73bn) while Uber announced it was selling its self-driving cars and flying taxi divisions for the rather novel business idea of ‘concentrating on profits.’ 

The month ended with a deal finally being reached to approve a $900bn (£657bn) Covid stimulus package – and with continuing warnings of a cyber-attack on the US government. The New York Stock Exchange announced that it would de-list three Chinese telecoms giants due to supposed links to the Chinese military.

With or without the Chinese companies Wall Street enjoyed a good month. The Dow Jones index closed above 30,000 – ending the month up 3% at 30,606. The more broadly-based S&P500 index was up 4% at 3,756. 

The Japanese government announcing a further Covid stimulus for the economy. The additional spending – amounting to 73.6tn yen (£530bn) will include subsidies for green investment and spending on digitalisation and is aimed at pulling the country out of its Covid-induced economic slump. 

There was certainly no slump in Asian markets either. China’s Shanghai Composite index rose 2% to 3,473: the Hong Kong market was up 3% to 27,231 and Japan’s Nikkei Dow rose 4% to 27,444. The South Korean market had an excellent month, rising 11% to close December at 2,873. 

No doubt if someone had said to you on January 1st ‘there’ll be a global pandemic and the world will still be battling it on December 31st’ you may have been confident of all the world’s stock markets falling. 

That is very far from the case: with the world’s central banks pumping money into global economies some markets have had a very good year. Leading the way is the South Korean market, which is up 31% . Japan rose by 16% and China’s Shanghai Composite index rose 14%: the only major market in the region to fall was Hong Kong, which dropped by 3%. 

In Europe the DAX index rose by 4% in 2020, but the French market was down 7%. Sadly the UK’s FTSE-100 index was down by 14% – the worst performance of all the markets and the worst year for the FTSE since the financial crisis. 

In the US the Dow Jones index was up 7%, while the S&P500 index rose by 16%. and the Nasdaq index – the US’ index of tech stocks – was up by an eye-watering 42% in 2020. 

India led the way in Emerging Markets with the stock market up by 16% in the year: the Russian market rose 8% with the Brazilian index was up by 3%. 

And Finally… 

…But will Earth survive until April 1st? It appears that our planet has failed the interview and will not be admitted to the Galactic Federation. 

According to professor and retired Israeli general Haim Eshed – and reports in several papers – there is a Galactic Federation of alien species among the stars. But they don’t want us humans to be part of their club , as we’re ‘not ready.’ The aliens won’t make this known publicly as they are worried that we’ll ‘freak out.’ They have, however, contacted President Trump who may be on the verge of revealing their existence. 

We’d better wish you a Happy New Year while we still can. With the aliens’ permission, we will be back at the start of February: in the meantime our very best wishes go to all our clients for a happy, healthy and prosperous 2021!