1) The G20 group agreed at the Brisbane summit on 16th November to boost their collective GDP by another 2% above the planned growth trend by 2018. But David Cameron warned of the impact from conflicts, low growth and a eurozone “on the brink” of recession. “Emerging markets, which were the driver of growth in the early stages of the recovery, are now slowing down,” he said.
2) The Japanese equity surge wobbled in mid-November, as new figures showed a 1.6% quarter-on-quarter annualised shrinkage of GDP in the third quarter – implying a technical recession. Analysts had been expecting 2.2% growth. The shortfall was thought to be caused by reduced inventories, but it was enough to raise doubts over next autumn’s round of sales tax increases. Nobody was very surprised, then, when Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called a snap election – partly so as to muster support for a proposal to postpone the tax increases.
3) 24 European banks failed the European Banking Authority’s stress-testing exercise, designed to find out whether the capital ratios of 123 banks were capable of withstanding another crisis. All were from the euro zone, with four Italian banks, two Greek banks, two Belgian banks and two Slovenian banks failing the test. Monte dei Paschi, which had failed the most severely, experienced s sharp drop in its share price. All UK banks passed.
4) The April 2015 pension reforms are far behind schedule, industry sources reported, with many providers currently struggling with the paperwork. The National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF)sent a series of 101 questions to the government about the reforms, which it said “would be a confusing time for those retiring.”
5) Oil prices continued to barrel downwards, with Brent dropping below $78 as Saudi Arabia hinted that it would not support prices. Some US shale oil producers were felt to be at risk because of their high leverage and relatively high extraction costs. But Russia and Venezuela were the chief sufferers.
6) FCA adviser complaints procedures may be tightened up, following a proposal by a 20-strong working group that the regulator should scrap its non-reportable complaints rule, which exempts firms from reporting complaints if they are resolved within 24 hours.
7) Advisers are losing interest in developing online advice solutions for their clients, according to Aviva’s latest Adviser Barometer. Only 6% of advisers say that they see developing online investment propositions as a ‘great’ opportunity, down from 8% in March 2014, and 70% said they are not currently considering building one.But 74% said they expected to see more focused or simplified online solutions appearing in the market.
8) Equity release is still growing in popularity, according to the Equity Release Council, which said that the total housing wealth paid out through equity release had increased by 32% in a year, with an average release of £67,000. 33% of borrowers used the money to pay off credit cards or personal loans, and another 28% used it to pay off mortgages – up from 23% last year.
9) Chinese main-market shares became more accessible to foreigners, thanks to a tie-up with the Hong Kong stock exchange. The Stock Connect scheme should also enable Chinese companies to access foreign capital more easily.
10)Bitcoins seemed unaffected by the recent swerves in euro and dollar valuations, with the average price dropping to US$400 in mid-November – some 20% lower than at the start of October. In December 2013, by comparison, the price had hit $1,147.
11)$4.3 billion of fines were imposed on six UK and US banks for manipulating forex markets between 2008 and 2013. HSBC, RBS, UBS, Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase and Citigroup had been prosecuted by both the UK and UIS regulators.
12)The Russian rouble plunged as the central bank allowed it to float freely. Until that point the authorities had been spending an estimated $350 million a day on currency support, as pressure over Ukraine and falling oil prices had mounted.
13)Mexico’s government came under pressure over the deteriorating security situation in some parts of the company – accompanied by corruption allegations against President Enrique Pena Nieto.
14)Microsoft overtook Exxon to become the world’s second largest company, following a 30% rise in this year’s share values at a time when the oil major’s profits were being hit by low oil prices. Apple remains the world’s biggest company, worth $668 billion.