City Watch: Equities remains the asset of choice, says Charles Sylvester

Charles Sylvester of Charles Stanley & Co, Ipswich

Charles Sylvester of Charles Stanley & Co, Ipswich - Credit: Archant

On the bright side, it looks as though a sustained UK economic upswing is underway.

After a hesitant start last year, 2013 showed GDP growth of 1.9% and this is expected to increase to some 3% in both the next two years.

However, the recovery is still quite tentative and largely driven by household spending, so there is a long way to go before the UK repositions its economy to be more export orientated, as illustrated by recent November trade figures which showed a total deficit of £3.2billion.

Meanwhile, we have continued to see improving confidence in equity markets, particularly those in the developed world.

The emerging markets on the other hand, beloved by investors for the last five years, have been suffering a bout of negative sentiment since last summer as a result of the potential tightening of credit in the United States.

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Overall the global economic picture probably has more plusses than minuses, but a major reason for this is that on both sides of the Atlantic as well as in Japan, central banks are maintaining an extremely loose monetary policy. At the moment, the European Central Bank hasn’t started up the printing presses yet, but unless we see some positive signs of life in the eurozone, they are going to have to consider it, albeit reluctantly.

Anyway, despite the strong upward moves in equities last year, in my opinion they still remain the asset of choice.

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They have attractive yields, when compared to cash, they are extremely liquid, when compared with property, and at the same time they also offer some protection against the falling value of money.

: : Charles Sylvester is an investment manager with Charles Stanley & Co in Ipswich.

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