WeekWatch

Stock Take

Some good company results last week helped US equities before all eyes fell on Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

As well as being a popular skiing destination, Jackson Hole is becoming well known for its Economic Symposium. Leading figures from central banks, and decision-makers across the globe, come to this annual event to discuss issues relating to a particular topic, this year’s being ‘Structural Shifts in the Global Economy’.

The speech which in previous years has garnered the most attention is that of Federal Reserve Chairman, Jerome Powell. His speech is generally seen as a good indicator of the Fed’s thinking, and helps give an idea of the direction it’s likely to take in the coming months.

Of course, the past year has been dominated by interest rate rises across the western world, as bankers have attempted to reduce inflation. Recently, US inflation has been falling closer to its 2% target, and the Fed has paused its rate hiking. That said, inflation remains elevated.

With so much uncertainty over how high interest rates are destined to go, Powell’s speech on Friday received even more attention than usual.

Whereas last year his speech was unambiguous that rates were destined to go up (as they have done), this year the talk was a little more nuanced. Powell admitted the Fed was ‘navigating by the stars under cloudy skies.’ Overall, a key message was that the Fed is still prepared to raise the interest rate or keep it at a high level, so long as the economic situation requires it.

“At upcoming meetings, we will assess our progress based on the totality of the data and the evolving outlook and risks. Based on this assessment, we will proceed carefully as we decide whether to tighten further or, instead, to hold the policy rate constant and await further data,” he noted.

As this speech was delivered on Friday, it’s likely we’ll see any market reactions this week.

Outside the Symposium, last week we learnt mixed information about the health of the US economy. Technology stocks had a good week, buoyed by several positive earnings results. This included from key chip manufacturer NVIDIA, which has seen its shares balloon this year on the back of developments driven by artificial intelligence.

The Nasdaq Stock Market, synonymous with the US technology sector, rose by 2.3% while the S&P 500 added a more modest 0.8%.

On a less positive note, the preliminary August Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) highlighted that challenges remain for the wider economy. PMIs use surveys from companies to create reports and are often used by economists to help gauge the health of an economy.

The August PMI for manufacturing in the US and UK were both low. Felipe Villarroel, Partner at TwentyFour Asset Management, noted: “The PMI data is a reminder that the hiking cycle only started 18 months ago and there are lags that are yet to be felt in the real economy.”

In Europe, equities benefitted from a decline in natural gas prices on the Continent, with the MSCI Europe ex UK Index concluding the week 0.8% higher. The FTSE 100 also climbed 1.1%, the first weekly advance in four weeks.

Outside the western world, South Africa hosted the 15th BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) Summit in Johannesburg last week. The meeting wasn’t without its controversies. Russian President Putin was unable to attend due to facing an International Criminal Court arrest warrant for war crimes.

Nonetheless, the meeting was used in an attempt to create a counterweight to the current US hegemony. As part of this mission, the bloc invited six new countries – Argentina, Egypt, Iran, Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates – to join in January.

Wealth Check

As a start-up, knowing which expenses can be tax-deductible will help boost your cash flow significantly. Plus, with the UK corporation tax rate increasing for some firms – to as much as 25% – many business owners will be looking for legitimate ways of reducing their taxable profits.

But there are many common misconceptions around how reliefs work. The rules are often complicated, so calculating how much to claim can be difficult.

For instance, some small and medium enterprise (SME) owners don’t realise that deductions only apply to certain business costs, and there are many that are not eligible for tax relief, such as client entertainment. Entrepreneurs may also miss the chance to save many thousands in other reliefs due to lack of awareness.

Andy Gibbs, Head of Group Technical at TaxAssist Accountants, says: “Some tax-deductible expenses are all too easy to overlook. Entrepreneurs often forget to claim all they’re entitled to when the expense doesn’t jump out at them from a bank statement. But finances can often be tight in the early years of a business, so advice and planning can help you save.”

Pension contributions for yourself and for members of staff are a tax-deductible expense for your business. And with the annual tax-free allowance on pensions savings increasing to £60,000 (or 100% or earnings if less than this) following the Spring Budget, you can save more for your future in a tax-efficient way.

For example, many entrepreneurs run their business from their house, especially during the early days. So many wonder, “Can I claim tax relief if I work from home?”

The answer is that if you have no other office, you can claim part of the running costs of your home on expenses, thereby saving tax. Even if your business moves to a commercial property later, if you continue doing some work from home, you may be able to claim reliefs.

Another example are Research and Development (R&D) tax credits. These are a rich but vastly underused source of government support. This is largely due to low awareness and doubts over eligibility. SME owners wondering if they qualify for R&D tax credits often assume that they only apply to high-tech industries, but claims are common in a range of business areas, from construction to agriculture. The key test is that the R&D project must attempt to make a scientific or technological advance.

Need help with your tax-deductible expenses? Contact us for practical information and advice to ensure you’re making use of the reliefs available.

The value of an investment with St. James’s Place will be directly linked to the performance of the funds you select and the value can therefore go down as well as up. You may get back less than you invested.

The levels and bases of taxation, and reliefs from taxation, can change at any time and are generally dependent on individual circumstances.

In The Picture

Over time, inflation means that even everyday items will become noticeably more expensive. This means it’s important you take care to grow your wealth, with an eye on the long term.

The Last Word

‘This success belongs to all of humanity, and it will help Moon missions by other countries in the future.’

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi celebrates his country’s successful space mission, landing a rover on the south side of the Moon.

TwentyFour Asset Management is a fund manager for St. James’s Place.

The information contained is correct as at the date of the article. The information contained does not constitute investment advice and is not intended to state, indicate or imply that current or past results are indicative of future results or expectations. Where the opinions of third parties are offered, these may not necessarily reflect those of St. James’s Place.

Source: London Stock Exchange Group plc and its group undertakings (collectively, the “LSE Group”). ©LSE Group 2023. FTSE Russell is a trading name of certain of the LSE Group companies.

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Source: MSCI. MSCI makes no express or implied warranties or representations and shall have no liability whatsoever with respect to any MSCI data contained herein. The MSCI data may not be further redistributed or used as a basis for other indices or any securities or financial products. This report is not approved, endorsed, reviewed or produced by MSCI. None of the MSCI data is intended to constitute investment advice or a recommendation to make (or refrain from making) any kind of investment decision and may not be relied on as such.

SJP Approved 29/08/2023

Sovereign Wealth Hong Kong is a Partner Practice of St. James’s Place (Hong Kong) Limited

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