Tech stocks on the way back up?

In the audio below I discuss stories related to:

  1. How are tech stocks performing after the volatility in the last week or two?
  2. Why London is still an attractive place for expats from the Gulf and beyond despite fears that Brexit would reduce the attractiveness of the UK’s capital.
  3. Why the China-US trade situation might not change anytime soon even with President-elect Biden due to come into office in January.
  4. The current situation for expats based in the Middle East. Will it gradually become more difficult to get expat visas and live in some Middle Eastern countries?
  5. I also briefly mention a story I read about the Philippines halting their retirement visa program. Why has it happened and what does it show about the world we are living in today? Could other countries follow the Philippines decision and restrict their retirement visa program ?

The articles referred to are below

  1. S&P 500 and Nasdaq rise as investors buy tech shares beaten up this week, Dow closes flat – CNBC

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite rose on Wednesday as tech shares recovered some of their losses from earlier in the week at the expense of names who would benefit from an economic recovery. 

The broader-market index closed 0.8% higher at 3,572.66 and the Nasdaq jumped 2% to 11,786.43. The Dow Jones Industrial Average — which had been the stalwart early this week — struggled, falling 23.29 points, or 0.1%, to 29,397.63.

Apple gained 3%. Netflix climbed 2.2%. Facebook and Amazon rose 1.5% and 3.4%, respectively. Alphabet closed 0.6% higher, and Microsoft was up by 2.6%.

American Express fell 4.2% to lead the Dow lower. Boeing and Disney both lost at least 3%. 

Wednesday’s moves came after strong back-to-back strong sessions for the Dow that were sparked by Pfizer and BioNTech’s announcement about their more than 90% effective Covid-19 vaccine. 

The news caused investors to move out of technology names and stay-at-home stocks and into cyclical stocks that hinge on a recovering economy. 

“An abrupt macro positive shock such as we saw this week can lift all value stocks for a time,” Inigo Fraser-Jenkins, co-head of the portfolio strategy team at Bernstein, wrote in a note. “However, we think that the outlook for the next year has to be more nuanced.”

Fraser-Jenkins noted there is “still a greater longevity of growth” for major technology companies.

Tech and consumer discretionary, the worst-performing sectors this week, outperformed on Wednesday. Tech was up by more than 2%, and consumer discretionary gained 1.5%.

The best-performing sectors this week, energy and financials, lagged. Energy was down 0.8%, while financials lost 0.5%. Energy remains up more than 16% week to date despite Wednesday’s decline; financials are still 8.4% higher over that time period. 

“What you saw this week really encapsulated what the market is focused on,” said Gregory Faranello, head of U.S. rates trading at AmeriVet Securities. “You certainly saw a dramatic reaction in the equity market, and the bond market was pulled into that as well.”

The bond market was closed Wednesday due to the Veterans Day holiday. Earlier this week, however, the 10-year Treasury yield hit its highest level since March as traders sold Treasurys. 

The vaccine and antibody drug news comes as the United States once again topped its prior day record of daily new Covid-19 infections, on a seven-day average, while also crossing the bleak milestone of more than 10 million cases nationwide on Monday. The seven-day average of daily new cases Monday was 108,964, a 37% increase from a week ago, according to a CNBC analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University.

2. Despite Brexit, UK still key destination for wealthy Gulf expats – Arab News

  • The number of High Net Worth Gulf expats living in the UK has increased by 28 percent in five years
  • Saudi expats see London’s technology, cultural and hotel sectors as strategic long term investments

LONDON: The number of wealthy Gulf nationals living in the UK has reached a five-year high, as the appeal of the country’s investment, education and entertainment sectors continue to outweigh Brexit’s economic uncertainty.

According to a study by Boodle Hatfield, a leading private wealth law firm, the number of High Net Worth (HNW) individuals — those who hold over $1 million in liquid assets — living in the UK from the Gulf this year reached 11,742; a 28 percent increase compared to five years ago.

Saudis and Emiratis make up the bulk of those residing in the UK, with 6,943 and 1,342 people respectively having chosen to call Britain, and predominantly London, their home.

Boodle Hatfield said historic ties between the UK and Gulf countries had made Britain a popular destination for internationally mobile people, and the favorable investment opportunities in the UK capital had only added to this appeal.

Gulf nationals have traditionally been key investors in prime and super prime property in London, and Kyra Motley, a partner at Boodle Hatfield, told Arab News that the hotel and cultural sectors, in particular, had also seen significant interest from Saudi HNWs.

“Saudi investors have played an important role in investing in and upgrading key assets in the UK’s hotel sector — for example funding the refurbishment of landmark assets like the Savoy hotel,” she said.

“Both Saudi individuals and companies are also regular sponsors of art exhibits in the UK, and initiatives like The Edge of Arabia have sought to introduce the work of Saudi artists to a UK audience.”

Boodle Hatfield’s report also found that the UK’s reputation as being Europe’s leading hub for innovation in technology, particularly fintech, has acted as an additional draw to invest in the country for wealthy nationals keen to diversify their interests away from purely oil and gas.

“These investors are taking a long-term view,” Motley said, “and have decided that despite any short-term instability, the UK remains one of the most stable jurisdictions in which to invest capital.”

Furthermore, she said, “due to its multicultural nature, Gulf nationals feel very at home in London. The more moderate climate and multitude of dining and shopping options are also appealing to the younger cosmopolitan generation.”

Motley added: “There’s no indication that this upward trend will reverse anytime soon.”

3. Bahrain: Unemployment benefit not for expats – Gulf News

Cairo: Bahraini authorities have denied media reports claiming that migrant workers in the country can get unemployment benefits.

“By virtue of the anti-employment insurance law, the unemployment benefit is offered to Bahrainis only at the rate of 200 dinars per month for the university graduate and 150 dinars for the holder of the non-university degree for maximum nine months. This benefit is not offered to foreigners,” the Ministry of Labour and Social development said.

The ministry explained that expatriate workers have the right to obtain compensation for arbitrary dismal from work.

“This compensation is equivalent to 60 per cent of the basic salary if the dismissal from work is arbitrary and has no legal grounds,” it added in a statement.

The Bahraini Labour Market Regulatory Market has given the expatriate worker, laid off arbitrarily, to apply for the compensation within a 30-day deadline.

The numbers of foreign workers in the kingdom have recently dropped to reach 456,840 this year against 477,741 in 2019, according to figures released by Bahrain’s state Social Insurance organisation.

Last month, a Bahraini parliamentary committee approved a draft bill obliging employers to give job preferences to citizens as the kingdom is seeking to replace expatriates in work.

The draft commits employers to check records of Bahraini job-seekers and hire the qualified citizens. Failure to comply with the regulations will be punishable by a fine ranging from BD5,000 to 20,000.

4. Trump bans US investments that would aid China’s military -CNN

New York (CNN Business)President Donald Trump signed an executive order banning Americans from investing in Chinese firms that the administration says are owned or controlled by the Chinese military. 

The order applies to 31 Chinese companies that it says “enable the development and modernization” of China’s military and “directly threaten” US security.Smartphone maker Huawei and Hikivision, one of the world’s largest manufacturers and suppliers of video surveillance equipment, are among the blacklisted companies. Some of the other companies listed, including China Telecom and China Mobile, trade on the New York Stock Exchange. 

Trump’s order also bans US investors from owning or trading any securities that originate or are exposed to those firms.

This includes pension funds or owning shares in the companies that are banned. Investors will have until November 2021 to divest from any of the companies. 

The order, set to take effect January 11, comes as trade and technology battles are heating up between the world’s two largest economies. This story is developing.

5. Powell Warns of U.S. Economy Risk With Pandemic at Deadliest Yet – Bloomberg.

Three of the world’s top central bankers warned Thursday that the prospect of a Covid-19 vaccine isn’t enough to put an end to the economic challenges created by the pandemic.

“We do see the economy continuing on a solid path of recovery, but the main risk we see to that is clearly the further spread of the disease here in the United States,” Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said during a panel discussion at a virtual conference hosted by the European Central Bank. “With the virus now spreading, the next few months could be challenging.”

Powell was joined on the panel by Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey and ECB President Christine Lagarde. Both echoed his caution, and added to recent warnings from other central bankers against complacency.

Bailey called recent vaccine news “encouraging” and said he hoped it would reduce uncertainty but added “we’re not there yet.” Lagarde said while it’s now becoming possible to see past the pandemic, “I don’t want to be exuberant.”

The words of warning come as much of the U.S. and Europe is enveloped in a new wave of coronavirus outbreaks. In the U.S., hospitalizations are at record highs. In Europe and the U.K., governments have moved to reimpose lockdowns to limit the spread of the virus. Worldwide, cases top 52.3 million and deaths exceed 1.28 million.

Fed officials next meet Dec. 15-16 and may tweak their bond-buying program in a bid to offer the economy further support, a possibility Powell alluded to following their policy meeting last week. The BOE upped the size of its own bond-buying program last week and the ECB has already flagged that it’s also getting ready to add to monetary accommodation in the euro zone next month.

Fiscal Support

U.S. lawmakers are still debating additional fiscal stimulus following Democratic President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in last week’s elections and a stronger-than-expected showing by Senate Republicans, which may lead them to retain control of that chamber pending the outcome of two January run-off elections in the state of Georgia.

“My sense is that we will need to do more, and Congress may need to do more as well on fiscal policy,” Powell said.

The central bank chiefs also suggested longer-term trends impacting the workforce have likely been accelerated by the pandemic, with uncertain effects.

“Even after the unemployment rate goes down and there is a vaccine, there is going to be, probably, a substantial group of workers who are going to need support as they find their way in the post-pandemic economy, because it is going to be different in some fundamental ways,” Powell said.

Lagarde sounded a slightly more optimistic note, citing the rise of telemedicine and digital payments as positive features of a more technology-reliant world.

“There will be transformation that will be beneficial. There will be sectors of services that were not available that can be now provided from anywhere to somewhere,” Lagarde said. “It will accelerate digitalization, which is an area where Europe was a little bit lagging behind, and where clearly much progress had to be made.”

Further Reading

In the audio below I speak about three news articles:

  1. The Ant IPO. What does the suspension say about the current situation in China? Should you avoid all pre-IPOs in the future coming from China after this news story?
  2. Stocks soaring on news of vaccine hopes. What does this show after people were dreading November due to the election and lockdowns in Europe.
  3. Will technology fall relative to the general market now a vaccine has been found? Or will the relative underperformance of technology relative to “old school companies” be a temporary thing?

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