When British Prime Minister Theresa May called for a snap election back in April, her Conservative party was widely expected to build on its majority in the House of Commons. But after a disastrous campaign, the Tories found themselves eight seats short of forming a government, forcing them into an alliance with the right-leaning Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland. The stunning election result not only undermined the prime minister’s authority, it might have complicated her plans for a ‘hard Brexit.’
Following the election result, the outcome of Brexit negotiations is anyone’s guess. Given the situation, Prime Minister May will likely modify her approach to exit talks to build consensus on a plausible way forward. This includes softening her mandate of a hard exit from the European Union (EU). Even Conservative Members of Parliament have conceded that May is being pressured to ditch her hard Brexit plans for a far more consensual approach.
Against this backdrop, investors are wondering about the impact of the latest election result on their portfolio. With the future of UK-EU trade relations hanging in the balance, market participants are looking to readjust their holdings to reflect likely scenarios stemming from Brexit negotiations.
Check here to know more about how to capitalize on the recent UK snap elections.
Financial and Economic Impacts of Brexit Talks
In the world of finance, uncertainty breeds volatility. Brexit is perhaps the most uncertain fundamental development in the financial markets since the 2008 financial crisis. The Bank of England (BOE) wasted little time in easing monetary policy even further following the June 2016 referendum. This diminished any opportunity for the British pound to recover from its post-referendum collapse. A weak pound has boosted the export-oriented FTSE 100 Index, which has surged to record highs in the wake of the Brexit vote.
Britain’s benchmark index has soared to record highs in the aftermath of the referendum result. However, the long-term outlook on share prices is far less certain. What is clear is that Brexit fears are making some companies think twice about expanding their footprint in the UK. This is especially true for London’s financial hub, which has strong links throughout the EU guided by common regulatory frameworks.
In this environment, private equity firms have been forced to look further afield for yield. It remains to be seen whether UK private equity will adjust to the new political reality or seek sanctuary across borders.
The country’s housing market has also been tainted by uncertainty surrounding EU exit talks. Although home prices rose in May for the first time in five months, regional markets like London could experience a prolonged pinch as exit negotiations continue. Data from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors also shows a broad slowdown in housing transactions across the country. This is partly attributed to Brexit uncertainty and partly as a result of lower supplies.
Investment Themes to Consider Following UK Election
After a year of solid increases, the FTSE 100’s bank sector saw its gains slow to a crawl in the aftermath of the June 8 election. Equity investment funds have declined sharply since the vote, forcing investors to look elsewhere for sustained growth.
Below are three themes that investors could consider when navigating the UK amid Brexit talks.
Fund investors in pursuit of a hedge against Brexit volatility might not have to look far at all. Funds with exposure to Europe provide a strong catalyst for growth given the recent inflow of capital to the region. Even U.S. fund managers are growing bullish on European equities, and expect a rotation out of Wall Street and into Europe as the latter expands its recovery efforts. Vanguard Europe Stock Index Instl (VESIX) and Fidelity Europe (FIEUX) have both returned stellar gains so far this year.
Growth Equity Funds
Brexit risks notwithstanding, 2017 has seen a broad pickup in risk appetite. Although this is expected to induce heavier volatility, it could also favor growth stocks, which are defined as companies whose earnings are forecast to grow faster than the industry average. The Vanguard Growth Index Admiral (VIGAX), which is a low-cost, passively managed fund that bets on U.S. large-caps, returned more than 11% over the last six months. The ‘fund of funds’ Franklin Corefolio Allocation Advisor (FCAZX) is another potential play for investors looking for growth stocks in U.S. and foreign markets, having returned more than 7% over the last six months.
The market for alternative investments is expanding at a rapid rate as investors look for a more unconventional approach to growing their portfolios. Alternative funds include strategies tied to currencies, managed futures, market neutral and credit arbitrage. Calamos Market Neutral Income I (CMNIX) is one of the largest market neutral funds with more than $4.4 billion in net assets. The Aberdeen Equity Long-Short A (MLSAX) is a solid long-short play that invests a large portion of its fund in U.S. equities.
In case you are wondering whether mutual funds are right for you at all, you should read about why mutual funds, in general, should be a part of your portfolio.
The Bottom Line
Brexit is widely regarded as one of the biggest paradigm shifts in the global political economy. Although its full impact has not been ascertained, fund investors should begin realigning their portfolios around this new economic and political reality.
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