YOU MAY not have noticed, as you probably had other things on your mind; but on the first trading day after Christmas, the Footsie dragged itself up to a new record closing high of 7,106.08. It has since continued its run.
By the close yesterday, Thursday, the Footsie extended its record-breaking run to six days on the trot, setting a new record high of 7,177.89. That’s a 15% gain over the past 12 months.
The Footsie is of course stuffed with global giants that make much of their profit from exports. The index has therefore been greatly helped by a weak pound and a strong dollar. During the past year, the pound has fallen 17% against the US dollar and 14% against the euro.
Before we all get carried away by the rise in the Footsie, there are a few things to bear in mind. The first is that it has taken more than 20 months for the index to finally surpass its previous closing high of 7,104 that stood since April 2015.
Furthermore, the Footsie is currently just 4.2% higher than in was in December 1999, 16 long years ago. Look no further than this statistic if you’ve ever wondered why it’s hard to make money from stockmarket investment.
Not that you have to worry about that if you’ve been following our advice. We ended the year with the shares currently in our portfolio showing a net gain of 42.5%, outperforming the market by a healthy 31.1% (see bottom of table on the next page).
Meanwhile, Britain continues to confound those who told us with such confidence that the economy would collapse if the electorate had the temerity to mutiny against the ruling elites and vote to leave the EU. Surveys show that manufacturing, construction, and service industries are all buoyant, and our exporters are doing well on the back of a weak pound.
Turning to our trend analysis, all of the FTSE indices that we monitor, apart from the FTSE 250, are in uptrend, so you’d expect the London equity market to be strong. And indeed, there are no sectors in downtrend, which appears to confirm the hypothesis. Yet apart from the FTSE benchmarks, only eight other sectors are in uptrend ‒ and none of them have moved into uptrend in the past two weeks.
The explanation is of course that the market has come slightly off the pre-Christmas boil, with a lot of shares performing well, but not quite well enough for us to call them unequivocal uptrends.
At the end of the year, Official List companies were strong; AIM-listed shares not so much.
On the Official List, the percentage of shares in uptrend is up; the percentage of shares in downtrend is down; a classic indication of a rising market. AIM shares are not so bullish but we’re encouraged to see a significant drop in the percentage of shares in downtrend, indicating early-stage recovery.