Market Perspective From Ferguson Oliver JANUARY 2008 0 INTERESTING TIMES LIE AHEAD IN 2008 0 2007 has been an eventful year in world markets. Investor appetite for risk has dramatically 8 re-rated as weakness in the US housing market has led to increased volatility in both equity and fixed interest income markets, as well as the impact it has had on property markets. Whilst the developed economies are bracing themselves for a US-led slowdown, the China 0 bull story seems to continue apace. Chinese demand remains one of the main props to global commodity prices and a significant contributor to an oil price of almost $100 per barrel. Given the increased levels of market uncertainty evident as we move into 2008, one message is 0 clear: diversification will be essential. Investors should be considering the traditional means of diversification, by asset class and by geography, but consideration should also be given to more lateral means of spreading risk. We see moving away from leveraged asset classes as an important theme for successful investing in the new year. With that in mind, Asia may be one 0 of the best places to build a market exposure as fewer companies, and consumers, in that region have embraced the concept of gearing in the same way as their western counterparts. ECONOMIC OVERVIEW The global economic picture has changed dramatically during 2007. The year started off showing strong global growth and rising commodity prices but growth expectations have weakened since US sub-prime concerns began to take hold in the summer months. The sudden 2 contraction of credit has affected both markets and, perhaps most importantly, consumers. Consumer confidence could weaken as the value of financial assets come under threat. House prices in the US are already falling; in the UK, they will at best level off, if not decline (albeit only slightly). It is unclear 6 whether this has already had an impact on consumer confidence but the relationship between consumer confidence and property prices is undeniable—and any bad news about the housing market is sure to dampen consumer spending which, in turn, could affect business confidence. We have 6 already seen the most recent business confidence surveys show a downturn. HEADLINE THEMES: 8 • Weak consumer confidence posing a tangible threat to global growth. • Inflation may emerge as a further threat to the global economy • Diversification will be a key investment strategy 5 • Mixed outlook for global markets as credit conditions remain tight • Asia likely to be a bright spot on the back of continuing economic growth • Eastern property expected to continue to outperform western counterparts 8 • Fixed income markets may be factoring in too much potential bad news • Opportunities in credit markets exist on a selective basis Offices at 26 Clerk Street, Brechin: 1 East High Street, Forfar & 143 High Street, Montrose This document has been produced by Ferguson Oliver for guidance purposes only and must not be acted upon without seeking independent financial advice. Ferguson Oliver is a trading name of Ferguson Oliver Limited. Ferguson Oliver is an appointed representative of Burns-Anderson PLC, 27 Great George Street, Bristol, BS1 5QT which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority. web: www.ferguson-oliver.co.uk Market Perspective From Ferguson Oliver JANUARY 2008 0 INTERESTING TIMES LIE AHEAD IN 2008 0 MARKET OVERVIEW 8 1. Equity Markets: Against an unsettled economic backdrop we believe that 2008 could produce one of the most interesting years that equity markets have seen in a long time. The volatility that has swept back into markets through 2007 is unlikely to go away in 0 2008. Aftershocks from the credit crunch will continue to be felt in the banking sector and as such avoiding banks might well play an important role in the pursuit of returns. This said investors in equity markets should still be able to make gains, provided they are not willing to simply follow the benchmark and invest in funds with an actively managed 0 2. portfolio Property Markets: As in other equity sectors, investors in property securities should expect further volatility in 2008. Whilst the market for commercial property is likely to deliver negative returns over the next few months, our view is that over the medium to 0 longer term property should continue to give reasonable risk-adjusted returns and taking account of the relatively smooth nature of returns relative to equities and the lack of correlation with other asset types, we believe that commercial property—particularly a combination of UK and International exposure—has a useful diversification role in most investor’s portfolios. 3. Fixed Income Markets: Late summer 2007 marked a significant re-pricing of risk in global fixed income markets. Investors sought refuge away from the fall-out of the US sub-prime market and its relationship with structured debt. Government bond markets 2 have strengthened and yields have fallen a long way since then and are now discounting a series of interest rate cuts that we believe may come through more slowly than many expect, due to the inflationary con- cerns. Accordingly selective issuer and credit selection should still offer 6 fixed income investors attractive opportunities in the coming year. CONCLUSION: 6 The increased market volatility which has been in evidence since summer 2007 is likely to continue. Volatility is not necessarily a bad thing. Oftentimes it makes it easier to uncover quality investments. However, volatility also 8 highlights the importance of building a diversified portfolio of assets. Good, solid, fundamentally sound investment opportunities do still exist in such a market. At Ferguson Oliver we will be looking to encourage clients to reduce 5 their exposure to property based funds and increase holdings in fixed interest and non-equity based funds with absolute or total return funds gaining favour at present. In addition for those investors who appreciate the 8 importance of adopting a diversified geographic position we will look to reduce UK exposure in favour of greater international presence particularly in the Asian and Emerging Markets. If you have any concerns with your current position please contact us in order that we can conduct a review and make suitable recommendations to best align your portfolio for 2008.
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