Global stock markets have closed at a succession of record highs already this year with the Dow Jones going above the 17,000 mark for the first time last week. But might now be a good time to stand back and take stock of where the markets are going?
Rick Lacaille, Global Chief Investment Officer with State Street Global Advisors, SSgA, said there were a lot of supportive elements in markets in recent years. "Profits are at all time highs, central banks were very supportive with low interest rates. In the US, we've seen a loosening of the fiscal position - the opposite to Europe," he said. "However, people are getting a little bit of vertigo. I think there's more to go but we need to exercise caution because volatility is at low levels and that suggests people are becoming complacent about risks in stock markets," he added.
The risks Rick Lacaille listed were the usual geopolitical and event risks, but he also cited interest rate increases. "They'll start increasing in the US and the UK soon - perhaps in less than a year. That will have an impact on company profits and on the way investors value equities because they'll have an alternative that will look more attractive," he said.
Investors should start to prepare for change now, Mr Lacaille said, but he added that there was no panacea. "There's no asset that's cheap and risk free, especially government bonds. You have to be ready for changes in allocations when events start to move," he concluded. He said he believed bond yields in Europe would remain reasonably low for some time, but the situation could be different in the UK and the US.
MORNING BRIEFS - Marks & Spencer has results for the three months to the end of June out this morning. It said that comparable sales of clothing in the 13 weeks fell 0.6%. Food sales were up 1.7%. The company's website's sales down just over 8%.
*** Second quarter earnings season kicks off in the US today. First up is the traditional starter to the season - the aluminium giant Alcoa. It reports second quarter results after the close of business on Wall Street tonight. The results come amid a period of low volatility in stock markets despite the fact that the Dow Jones went through the 17,000 mark last week for the first time and major stock markets generally have been hovering at all time highs.
*** The South Korean electronics giant Samsung has issued a profit warning ahead of its its second quarter results. It says earnings will be down by a quarter to just above $8 billion. That is far short of analysts expectations and is due to low demand for its smartphones and tablets in China and Europe and the effect of a strong Korean currency, which is hitting exports. It would be the third quarter of falling profits in a row.
*** The number of jobs advertised online between April and June was up 4%, according to the IrishJobs.ie Jobs Index.
Looking at the year to the end of June, the science and pharma sector is surging ahead with the number of jobs listed up 27%. Medical and healthcare jobs were up 19%. Construction is not showing the buoyancy seen in previous reports, with a quarterly drop of 22% but with an annual increase of 7%.
*** Car hailing app Uber is temporarily cutting fares on its taxi option as it controversially steps up competition with New York City yellow cab services. It has reduced fares by 20% for a limited time, making it cheaper than a city taxi.
It has tried this in other cities before but this is the first time that it has taken on the New York cabs. Uber's prices change depending on demand. When supply is low, Uber can cost half as much as a regular taxi, but when demand peaks Uber's pricing can be twice as much. This latest move is expected to lead to a stepping up of protests by the taxi drivers lobby.