1) Global stock markets dropped in first-half October, as an IMF report suggesting a slowdown in global growth coincided with fears about instability in the Middle East and a particularly depressing outlook for German manufacturing. By 16th October the FTSE Eurofirst was down 9% and the Footsie had dropped 6%. The VIX “fear gauge” hit 24.6 on 13th October, the highest in 28 months.
2) Social media use by staff members is still going largely unregulated by advisory firms, according to research by Intelliflo. The company found that although 58% of advisers are actively using social media, and although 30% said that social media has a ‘measurable or positive effect’ on their business, only 25% have policies regulating how employees should use it. The FCA is currently consulting on guidance (GC 14/6) on ways of tightening the rules.
3) Crude oil prices continued to drop on expectations that China and other emerging countries might soon be needing less energy, and that US and European demand was weakening. Brent was at $82 on 16th October, down from $115 in June.
4) Brazil’s incumbent presidentDilma Rousseff won the first round ofa re-election poll convincingly with 42% of the vote.The left-winger faces a run-off against centre-right challenger Aécio Neves on 26th October. Brazilian financial markets lost their recent gains on the news; Moody’s is threatening a downgrade.
5) Scottish home-buyers face a one-off 10% sales tax charge on the amount by which their agreed purchase prices exceed £250,000, following a radical reform of the stamp duty system which comes in next April. Properties worth more than £1 million will attract a marginal levy of 12% on the excess. But the marginal rate falls to just 2% on cheaper houses between £135,000 and £250,000.
6) Numbers of authorised investment advice firms have stayed broadly static since 2006, new figures from the FCA reveal. The 5,295 firms existing at end-July 2014 compared with from 5,367 in 2006-2007. The nadir was reached in 2012-2013, when there were only 5,199 authorised personal investment firms.
7) British pension savers have seen their pots relatively badly damaged by charges and inflation compared with their EU counterparts, according to a report by Better Finance, a European Commission-funded group. UK pension pots had shrunk by an average 0.7 per cent a year since 2000, leaving a £100,000 pot with only £90,634 of purchasing power. Danish savers had made an average 4.8% after inflation, while German personal pensions had turned £100,000 into £135,617.
8) UK house price rises may be cooling at present, but a new joint study by property website Rightmove and Oxford Economics estimates that prices in England and Wales will still rise by 30.2% in the next five years, peaking at 37.3% in the South East by 2019. This compares to 32.5% in London and “only” 24.3% in the North West.
9) Bitcoins continued to struggle, with the Coindesk quoted price dropping to $319 on 5th October, down from $1,147 last December. But the popularity of the new medium seems unstoppable – Pakistan has just opened its first bitcoin exchange. The rate had improved to $400 by 14th October but was barrelling back downward by the 17th.
10) Peer to Peer Lending is to be admitted to the ISA scene, the government hopes. A new consultation has started into the possibility of accepting P2P as an ISA component alongside cash and equities, in line with proposals that the Chancellor floated in his spring Budget speech.
But it won’t be easy – because, unlike the bank deposits in today’s New ISAs, P2P is not protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme. Dovetailing the two concepts together may take some time, and some ingenuity.