City Watch: Geo-political issues are continuing to drag on share prices, says Brian Tora

Brian Tora of J M Finn & Co

Brian Tora of J M Finn & Co - Credit: Archant

Despite the Scots having a last minute injection of good sense and committing (just) to the union, shares are still experiencing unsettled conditions.

Despite the Scots having a last minute injection of good sense and committing (just) to the union, shares are still experiencing unsettled conditions.

Last week saw the FTSE 100 share index suffer its biggest fall in 15 months, shedding nearly 3% ? not cataclysmic, but disappointing, particularly as the fall on Wall Street was held to less than 1%.

The problem remains that all those geo-political issues that have impacted on sentiment remain unresolved and look likely to continue to cast a pall over markets.

Probably the best approach is to turn one’s attention to more domestic issues. And plenty is happening at home to maintain investors’ interest. The Conservative Party Conference, provides a guide to how the coalition might deal with issues that will have an impact on shares.


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Yesterday’s announcement that the 55% tax levied on pension funds on death will be repealed was a further nail in the coffin of annuities. Little wonder insurance company shares suffered as a consequence.

And Tesco remains in the news, with the new chief executive warning staff not to shred documents that might relate to the background of the over-optimistic profits forecast that has seen a number of senior executives there fall on their swords. It can’t feel too comforting either to see cut price rival Aldi report a two thirds leap in profits. Its market share of UK groceries has been steadily rising and is now nudging 5%.

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Meanwhile, rumours abound Virgin Money is about to announce a flotation on the stock market. It seems the face of British banking is about to change further. Flotations, like takeovers, are generally a sign of confidence. Let’s hope we see more of these and less depressing news on the Middle East and Ukraine.

: : Brian Tora is an associate with investment managers J M Finn & Co.

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