Weekly Client Update – 25th August 2023

Markets Overview

US markets: The US stock market has been on a downward trend, with the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite Index both down about 5%. The losses have been driven by concerns about rising inflation and interest rates, as well as some disappointing earnings reports from US companies.

European markets: European stock markets have also been on a downward trend, with the pan-European STOXX Europe 600 Index down about 7%. The losses have been driven by similar concerns to those in the US, as well as some political uncertainty in Europe.

Asian markets: Asian stock markets have been mixed this week, with some markets closing higher and others closing lower. The Nikkei 225 Index in Japan closed higher, while the Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong closed lower. The gains in Japan were driven by a weaker yen, which boosted the value of Japanese exports. However, concerns about the Chinese economy weighed on the market in Hong Kong.

Emerging markets: Emerging market stock markets have been on a downward trend, with the MSCI Emerging Markets Index down about 8%. The losses have been driven by concerns about the global economic outlook, as well as rising interest rates in the United States.

Overall, the global markets have been volatile this week, with investors selling off riskier assets amid concerns about rising inflation and interest rates. It remains to be seen whether the markets will be able to recover in the coming weeks, or if they will continue to decline.

Concerns over health of Chinese economy weigh on global stocks

Global stocks lost ground for a third straight week on concerns over the health of the Chinese economy and higher government bond yields. The blue-chip S&P 500 and technology-focused Nasdaq indices fell 2.0% and 2.1% respectively. Investors have reduced exposure to China as hopes of a post-pandemic recovery fade but the pace of selling accelerated last week after the country’s troubled property sector moved back into the spotlight. Country Garden, China’s largest property developer, warned that it was facing the biggest difficulties in its history and confirmed it has missed interest payments on two of its bonds. Its sales slumped 34% year-on-year in July and its share price has fallen to a record low. The property market in China is important as it accounts for around a quarter of economic activity. Its boom was fuelled by debt and the downturn since authorities started to crack down on the sector in 2020 has seen many casualties.

The government’s decision to stop reporting the youth unemployment rate last week further undermined confidence. The National Bureau of Statistics reported than the jobless rate among 16-to-24-year-olds living in urban areas rose to a record 21% in June but it opted to suspend publishing the data for July, citing the need to improve the quality of the data it collects. The Communist Party’s politburo had promised to step up stimulus measures to boost the economy at its meeting in July but investors are still waiting for any meaningful action. Thus far, the measures announced have been incremental, including interest-rate cuts on short- and medium-term lending. Rising government bond yields also weighed on sentiment last week. US ten-year Treasury yields, which move inversely to prices, climbed to their highest level since 2007 despite expectations that the worst of the inflation shock is behind us.

Many investors have been wrong-footed by the strength and resilience of the US economy and are scaling back bets of how quickly the Federal Reserve will cut interest rates next year. Multi-decade low unemployment has enabled consumer spending to hold up against the sharp increase in the cost of living. The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta predicts the US economy will expand at an annualised rate of 5.8% in the third quarter. The UK economy is also holding up better than most expected, supported by the strength of the jobs market. Wages rose 7.8% in the second quarter, the fastest annual pace since records began in 2001, or 8.2% including bonuses. Higher wages make the Bank of England’s task of bringing inflation down more difficult. Money market futures are now pricing in the BoE’s benchmark interest rate reaching 6% by the end of the year.


Jersey students celebrate GCSE results

Young Islanders outperformed their English counterparts in GCSE exams, results released today have shown. A total of almost 1,400 students in Jersey achieved passes at grades 4 and above (the equivalent to the former grade C) in 73.7% of exams, compared with the English figure of 67.8%. Passes at the highest grades of 7-9 (equivalent to A or A* scores) were achieved in 24.7% of subjects, around 3% above the comparative mark in England (21.6%).Children’s and Education Minister Inna Gardiner said: ‘I would like to congratulate all the students who are receiving their results today: every one should be proud of your own individual journey and your personal achievements. ’The Jersey results were being shared with students on Thursday morning as pass rates in England, Wales and Northern Ireland fell for the second year running, with just over two-thirds of all subjects marked at grade 4 and above.

UK results, excepting Scotland where students do not take GCSEs, signified a move towards 2019 – the last year that exams were sat before Covid – when the figure was 67.3%. Grades spiked in 2020 and 2021 across the UK when exams were cancelled and results were based on teachers’ assessments, before falling to 73% for grade 4 and above in 2022.UK government Schools Minister Nick Gibb said: ‘Recovery from the pandemic will take time but ensuring children are in school and maintaining the integrity of our exams system so that universities, employers and young people can rely on it is vital.’


Harry, 11, gets highest grade in GCSE maths after taking exam five years early

An 11-year-old boy took his maths GCSE five years early – and achieved the highest grade possible. Harry Thew, who took the exam in Year 6 at Bede Academy in Blyth, Northumberland, said his performance was “quite good”. He dropped just two marks on one paper and five on the second to achieve a grade 9. The schoolboy, who has reached grade 5 in drums and also plays piano, can complete a Rubix cube puzzle in 12 seconds and competes at national level. His mother Elizabeth said: “Maths is just something he likes. He has a very high IQ and he’s always loved puzzles, numbers and logic. “We gave him a Sat paper in Year 2 and he passed it, so they gave him another at school to check and he passed that as well.”

Mrs Thew, who is a primary school teacher in Blyth, said she and her husband Steve were “average” at maths. “Once we all realised how good he was, school went with the idea of him doing his GCSE. “It wasn’t because we wanted him to do it, it was Harry who wanted to do it. When he was asked why, he said ‘why not?’.” Harry took his exam on the same day as the Year 11 students but on his own with an invigilator at Bede Primary, which he joined in Reception. Mrs Thew added: “He was pretty confident, quietly laid back, which is how he is. He we was a bit worried beforehand but doing practice papers helped him realise he could do it. Bede Academy principal Andrew Thelwell said: “Harry has always worked extremely hard in every subject and is an exceptionally talented young man who has done superbly well in his maths GCSE.”


Terminally ill father ‘makes memories’ for his daughter and helps cancer charity

An ‘inspirational’ father with terminal cancer has raised over £6,000 for a support charity by completing a 100km cycle ride. On Sunday, Ricky Marques (41) took part in the Mac100 challenge in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support Jersey, so that he could ‘leave a legacy’ for his three-year-old daughter and give back to the charities which have supported him. He completed the challenge in four hours and 26 minutes and has raised £6,150 so far, with the help of Apex Group, who donated over £2,000. However, Mr Marques explained, the 100 kilometres were ‘tougher than for most’. He added: ‘Because of the disease and the treatment, my lung capacity is at about 40 to 50% of what is normal. ‘When you’re cycling, you want all the air that you can get to your muscles, so with these limitations, it was hard.’

In November 2022, Mr Marques was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer which had spread to his lungs, lymph nodes, liver and bones. ‘I was told I had weeks to months to live,’ he said. ‘I’ve had some really dark moments and it’s not easy because I’m the father of a little girl.‘But I decided I could either stay on the sofa all day, miserable and waiting to die, or I could get up and do something amazing and try to make a difference. ‘With the treatment, I started to gain some weight and decided I wanted to do something about that. ‘I bought a bike, and about a month ago, I saw an advert for the challenge and signed up.’Mr Marques added that he also wanted to raise awareness that ‘this can happen to everyone’, saying: ‘I’m just a 41-year-old guy, and I want to make people aware to go to their GPs. If you feel something is not right, go and check. ‘I also wanted to give funds to an incredible charity like Macmillan because they were there for me and for my family when I needed them. Whatever you do, however you feel, don’t ever feel lonely – there are always these amazing charities around that are keen to help.’ He also thanked Jersey Cancer Relief, the Island’s oncology team, his trainer, Ian Williams, and The Cog & Sprocket for their support, as well as ‘every single person who sponsored me’. ‘Yesterday in the finish line, there were people coming to me and calling me an inspiration, but I look back and I see inspiration in every single person. ‘Sooner or later, it will happen to me – this cancer is terminal – but I always try and see the positive. ‘And I have this time to make memories for my girl. ’Those who wish to can donate at sportsgiving.co.uk/sponsorship/entry/1043978.


We were fighting back tears – it was quite upsetting, but also a big relief when we left the site’

From West Virginia to South Korea, a Jersey couple’s experience of consecutive editions of a global gathering of the Scouting movement could hardly have been more contrasting. Four years after meeting at the World Scout Jamboree in the US, starting a relationship that eventually led to wedding bells in 2022, Trevor and Katrina Holden found themselves in what some observers likened to a disaster zone. Having signed up as volunteers for the 2023 jamboree in South Korea, the couple were at the sharp end as the event descended into a disorganised, sweat-soaked state of chaos. More than 40,000 young people from 158 countries, including a small cluster from Jersey, made their way to south-east Asia at the start of August. Their arrival coincided with a heatwave in South Korea, interspersed with spells of heavy rain, which exposed some major shortcomings in the organisation of an event that had been planned for seven years. Hundreds of attendees were taken ill at the opening ceremony as a result of the high temperatures, while reports about the unsanitary conditions at the site in the south-western county of Buan made international headlines. Mr and Mrs Holden were part of the international service team assembled by the Scout Association to look after more than 3,000 Scouts from the British Isles attending the jamboree.

After arriving back in Jersey, the couple shared their experiences, saying that it had been apparent from the point they arrived that there were significant problems with the site. Mr Holden said: ‘The spin that we were hearing was that it was all about the weather – it was very hot, but the site was still being set up after Scouts had started to arrive. ‘There was hardly any shade, and then you’d see an area of shade that had vehicles parked in it while there were cases of water alongside that had been left in the sun. ’The couple arrived three days before the majority of the British contingent, pitching their small tent on top of pallets. The platform at least kept the tent just clear of the lying water left after a torrential downpour, although not everyone was so lucky. The state of the site was alarming, and failed to improve, Mrs Holden said.


Community project teaching sustainable food growing applies for extension of its smallholding

A Community horticultural project which teaches Islanders how to grow food in a sustainable way has applied to further develop its smallholding in the north of St Helier. The Grow project – which was founded in 2021 – is seeking planning permission to implement the next phase of its development, which includes building a teaching kitchen, a classroom, an equipment store and toilets in a single-storey block, creating a wildlife pond and raised beds, and landscaping a forest school and sensory garden.The application for the site, which is a 12-vergée field next to Surville Cemetery not far from Sion, also includes erecting two polytunnels and fitting 96 solar panels to the roof of the proposed kitchen/classroom block. At the moment, the smallholding is planted with a variety of plants, including rows of fruit and nut trees and beds of native pollinators and vegetables, such as onions, beans and squash.

Grow co-founder Sheena Brockie said: ‘The planning application is the next stage in our plans to create Jersey’s most inclusive community horticultural project, through the sensitive transformation of agricultural land into an organic and sustainable sma‘If passed, it will further expand educational opportunities in agriculture and horticulture in Jersey, building opportunities for that all-important nature connection, creating a resilient community and tackling the effects of biodiversity loss and climate change – all while providing food to those in our community who do not readily have access to sufficient nutrition.’ Mrs Brockie added that the project still needed to raise money to fund its development plans, but it made sense to obtain planning permission first. ‘We are building a centre of therapeutic horticulture in Jersey to teach Islanders about the importance of such issues as food waste, climate change and nutrition,’ she said.‘We are still building up our volunteers, knowledge and relationships but we are already supplying the Salvation Army with food and developing new ways to distribute it to those in need.’


Travellers warned of busy weekend at Jersey Airport

A high volume of air traffic expected across the long weekend has prompted a warning from Jersey Airport that passengers should allow longer than usual for their journeys.Ports of Jersey is forecasting that more than 20,000 passengers will travel through the Airport between tomorrow and Tuesday, including some especially busy periods when multiple flights are scheduled to depart within a few minutes of each other.A spokesperson said: ‘Passengers are advised to leave plenty of time to check in their hold luggage and to clear security.‘ Those needing to book special assistance for their journey should contact their airline before travelling to the Airport and all passengers should check baggage rules with their airlines.’Passengers have also been urged to plan their journey to the Airport, with a range of options. This includes regular buses from St Helier, pre-booking a taxi, a summer parking promotion for those who drive themselves to the Airport and free parking for up to 30 minutes in the long-stay car park while picking up friends and family. Delays were experienced earlier in the summer after new security screening equipment was installed, but Ports of Jersey say that the new scanners are now working properly.