AFTER months of speculation about how the markets would react to the gradual phasing out of monetary stimulus in the US, we got part of our answer over the last 36 hours. And, it has to be said, it’s so far so good.
Some assumed that even a hint of a tightening of monetary policy would be enough to put the skids under the world’s equities. But that has not been the case. Most equity markets rallied after the move, which was Ben Bernanke’s last before leaving the Federal Reserve Bank.
The FTSE 100 Index closed up 1.43 per cent yesterday at 6,584.70 while the Nikkei went up 1.74 per cent.
Bernanke said that bond purchases, which have been used as a stimulus to the US economy, will start to taper off from $85bn per month to $75bn, itself not as much of a drop as some expected. The Fed then added that the tapering was not on a “preset” course and could be adjusted depending on future unemployment and inflation trends.
And crucially, the Fed said its interest rates will stay close to zero “at least until the unemployment rate reaches 6.5 per cent”.
All of this leaves markets with the distinct feeling that the weaning off from cheap money will be a slow, gradual process. Which has left most market participants fairly relaxed about the effect, at least in the short-term, of a gradual return to normalised interest rates. Or maybe it’s just because we’re all that much more relaxed as we approach the festive period.
Either way, the market’s reaction allows us all to have at least some optimism for the year ahead.
GLOBAL CHARITY INDEX
In today’s edition we feature an eight-page supplement to announce the launch of the City A.M. Global Charity Index 2013. This is the third year we have compiled an index of the world’s top private sector charitable donors. We have always done this at Christmas time, a time of giving generally.
As most people know, the City’s companies and institutions give generously to charity throughout the year and at City A.M. we have supported many of their initiatives.
In the past year alone we have worked with, amongst others, RBC on its charity run for Great Ormond Street, the Red Cross on its Christmas Fayre at the Guildhall, Opportunity International, which provides micro loans in Africa, and the Mayor’s Fund, in its partnership with Magic Breakfast for an initiative to supply disadvantaged children with healthy breakfasts.
We hope you enjoy reading the Index, which has been compiled in conjunction with KPMG and the VU University Amsterdam.
CITY A.M. IN 2013
Here at City A.M. we have all enjoyed bringing you the best of the news from the business world, from the sports arenas and from politics.
The paper is packed with incisive commentary, both in the Forum, and in the form of editor Allister Heath’s letter, which has become one of the most influential daily articles anywhere in the City, as recognised by Editorial Intelligence, which voted him Business Commentator of the Year.
We’ve also covered the arts and reviewed the best restaurants, whether you’re going there socially or for work. Our property pages have highlighted homes for our readers to buy or rent and our magazine Bespoke has been a welcome addition.
All of the paper’s content can be found on our website, www.cityam.com, which has been added to, and now includes a live blog and other features. There will be further exciting improvements in the months to come, as well as more events like last year’s IPO Roundtable and The Awards.
Have a great break. Our next issue will be Monday 6 January 2014.
Allister Heath is away