Weekly client update – Friday, 23rd of April

Mixed International Markets

On Wednesday in the US, markets  closed higher with  the SPX500, DJ30 and NASDAQ100 all adding 0,9%, with media firms and cruise companies leading the SPX500. Financials, consumer discretionary and energy stocks gained more than 1%. Netflix on the other hand closed 7,4% lower. IMB and NIKE led the way in the DJ30 with gains of 3,9% and 2,2% respectively.  The NASDAQ100 was led by Intuitive Surgical and Moderna, adding 9,9% and 8,1%.

For  those interested in the world of  Crypto  it was a fairly good week although Bitcoin was  down 2% but  Uniswap registered gains of more than 14%, and Ethereum was up more than 6%.

The UK100 added 0.5% on Wednesday, taking its year-to-date gain to 6.7%. Fashion house Burberry, tobacco firm Imperial and gambling firm Entain all added more than 2%, but no stock gained more than 4%. Things looked similar at the bottom of the index: Just Eat Takeaway lost 2.7%, but only three stocks in total fell by more than 2%.

European stocks looked brighter on Wednesday after their worst sell-off this year as optimism about a strong earnings season started waning with worries about a rapid rise in COVID-19 cases in some countries.

Healthcare stocks gave the STOXX 600 its biggest boost, with Swiss pharmaceutical company, Roche, climbing 3% after predicting a surge in demand for its drugs for the remainder of 2021.

In general for this week, Oil continues to drop whilst the Asian market seems to be dancing somewhere in the middle.

In other news

Tory Sleaze was back in the headlines with the UK government announcing that there will be an internal inquiry into the leak of private messages between Boris Johnson and businessman Sir James Dyson.  Texts referred to Boris assuring Dyson that he would “fix” an issue over the tax status of Dyson’s employees.  This has left Labour less than impressed with the integrity of the government, once again in question.

Continuing with the same theme as we mentioned last week:

Former UK Prime minister David Cameron is back in the limelight being asked  on Tuesday to hand over the details of his private texts and messages to senior figures in the Treasury and Downing Street by MPs probing the collapse of his former employer Greensill Capital. The Treasury select committee also demanded that the former UK prime minister should give oral evidence as part of its inquiry. Cameron has been embroiled in the biggest lobbying scandal for a generation after it emerged that he had lobbied Treasury ministers — including chancellor Rishi Sunak — and Downing Street officials to try to change rules around Covid-19 loan schemes to benefit Greensill early last year.

Cameron maintained a blanket silence on the Greensill affair for 40 days — despite repeated questions from the press — until finally issuing a statement earlier this month. 

ESG continues to demand attention

The topic of ESG and sustainability is as pertinent as ever. Just in time for Earth Day, legislators said that Britain should start considering making environmental labelling compulsory for consumer financial products and start regulating misleading claims or “greenwashing”. The attention to green issues comes in preparation for Britain to host an important United Nations climate summit called COP26.

In a recent report, the House of Commons’ cross-party Treasury Committee urged the government to set out how much it would cost to achieve its target of reaching net zero emissions by 2050 and ensure financial regulation was consistent with this. Also included in the report was that the government should also reveal how much of a premium it was willing to offer investors to buy new ‘green’ government bonds rather than conventional debt.

Pizza Express impresses

Pizza Express has said it will be recruiting 1,000 new workers as it prepares to reopen after a coronavirus forced it to close its restaurants’ doors. After having to cut 2,400 jobs last year, it has already reopened 118 sites in line with the easing of Covid-19 lockdown measures that allow outdoor seating.

In addition, 300 of the new roles created at Pizza Express would be created under the government’s Kickstart initiative to help young people find work. If their optimism is anything to go by, it looks like we are in for a good second half of 2021.

Consistent with reports from the last few weeks, Britons’ prospects of going on foreign holidays this summer continue to be a booster, as the government has said that coronavirus passports will be available ASAP. This is in lieu of many countries requiring proof of a recent negative Covid-19 test before tourists can enter the country. The 17th of May remains the date that Britons can look forward to the beginning of foreign holidays.

And finally:

Lego Theft on the rise

If you have kept any of your old lego from your childhood then it could be worth a lot more than you thought.

French police have been investigating an international ring of toy thieves with a particular affinity for the colourful, interlocking bricks, according to a recent report from The Guardian. In this case, three suspects were caught taking boxes of Legos from a toy shop near Paris, with the goal of selling them in Poland, according to Le Parisien. And it’s not just Europe. Lego robberies have happened in the United States as well. Last month, a man in Oregon was arrested after local police suspected he stole $7,500 worth of Lego toy sets.

“There’s a lot of money in Legos. Lego sets come out in limited editions and they soon become collectors’ items” says Lego specialist Gerben van IJken.  “There is an enormous amount of collectors out there who are missing out on certain sets and are willing to pay a lot of money for these sets,”. The most valuable and sought-after sets are those in their original packaging, not opened yet.

For example — Lego Café Corner, a set released in 2007 for about $150, can nowadays run up to $3,000 if kept in its original condition”. Other sets routinely fetch thousands of dollars in online marketplaces. Some sellers are asking for more than $3,500 for an unopened set of the Lego Millennium Falcon.

Just like almost everything else in the world, the pandemic could be a driving force behind this phenomenon. “Especially during the lockdown period, as we are in right now — it’s still extremely popular,” van IJken adds. “And Lego sales are still extremely high, not only in the Lego Company itself but on our platform too. We saw a 100% rise in sales over the past year.”