2017 has been interesting for a whole host of reasons. Not only have we seen the global economy deliver a sustained expansion but central banks have also started to gradually withdraw the extraordinary monetary policy that has helped to support asset prices over the past decade. However, over recent months we have begun to see equity markets run out of steam, with some indices now largely tracking sideways.
Much is written about the ‘FANG’ stocks (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix & Google) but it is actually Apple, Alphabet (Google’s parent company), Amazon, Facebook and Microsoft that are amongst the largest 10 stocks in the benchmark. These companies are investor favourites and, in aggregate, they are holding up the US equity market in 2017. This is because underneath the 16.9% total return figure, the market is more in turmoil than many investors think.
It has been a tricky environment for UK equity income investors in 2017 so far, with a number of stock and sector-specific issues. For example, companies such as AstraZeneca and Provident Financial suffered significant share price falls, whilst the shock announcement from the US Food & Drug Administration on future tobacco regulation had a big impact on the sector.