City Watch: Brian Tora on how realism has returned to the markets

LAST week saw one element of uncertainty removed from the world’s investment stage.

Far from the presidential election in the United States being too close to call, as we were constantly told, President Obama secured his second four-year term of office by a comfortable margin.

In the run up to the election markets were remarkably buoyant. The initial reaction after the event was to see profit taking wipe out some of the gains achieved.

This was less a vote on the result than a return of realism. The so-called fiscal cliff is fast approaching, with tax rises and spending cuts due that could stop the US recovery dead in its tracks. No wonder nervousness has returned.

There seems little else of note to excite investors this week. House builders have been in the news this week, making some remarkably upbeat noises. And there are plenty of third quarter results around, particularly today, though little likely to deliver any earth-shattering news. But economic news is thin on the ground, if you leave aside the meeting of European finance ministers and the recent Greek austerity budget – again!

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Indeed, Europe seems to have drifted out of the headlines, replaced by America and China – both in the throes of determining new – or not so new in the case of the US – leadership. Given the importance of these two nations to the global economy, it is little wonder so much attention is being lavished upon them. At least China appears committed to retaining a growth focus.

As for America’s fiscal cliff, doubtless this will feature more prominently as we approach the end of the year. My money remains on a way round the impending financial problem being found.

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