As the year draws to a close, people are considering their financial position and what what to look out for in 2018 in terms of investment themes for their pensions.
Paul Kenny, a partner with consultants Mercer, said that anyone who is in a defined contribution (DC) scheme - which is most people now - have decisions to make about where to allocate their investments, whether it is stocks, bonds or other asset classes. "Increasingly, pensions are an individual choice. DC members have to tailor their risk appropriate to where they're at and their objectives. It's important to understand that what they've seen in the past from markets might not be what they'll see going forward."
Mr Kenny said that stock markets had performed very well last year and indeed for the last eight or nine years. "The value of stock markets has gone up over 200% since the lows of 2009. During 2017, US equities went up more than 20%. Emerging markets are up over 27%. They are really strong returns. If you're in a DC scheme, you'll have seen that come through."
Paul Kenny said it was likely stocks would take a breather at some point in the future, but he was cautiously optimistic about equity markets in 2018 against the backdrop of good economic growth and good corporate profitability. "It's important for investors to reassess where they're at. Do they understand the risks of where they are investing? We'd be nervous about bond markets. Central banks will likely move interest rates higher and bonds will be under pressure," he explained.
Mr Kenny said that after years of pressure, defined benefit (DB) pension schemes were performing much better. "They've had strong growth in recent years and are now in a better place. It's a good time to reassess what to do going forward in terms of investment strategy," he concluded.
MORNING BRIEFS - The National Treasury Management Agency has confirmed that we have paid back in full our bailout loans to the IMF and €1 billion in loans to Sweden and Denmark. €4.5 billion that was due to be paid to the IMF between 2021 and the end of 2023 has now been paid back in full. The NTMA took advantage of the low rates available to raise the money and use it to pay off the more expensive borrowings.
*** There was €600m of hotel transactions here in 2017, according to an analysis by estate agents Savills. That was a relatively quiet year compared to last year, when €850m of deals were secured, and indeed 2015, when deals topped a billion euro.
*** Stock market traders gave a rather muted response to the passage of a Republican tax bill through the final stages in Congress. Markets on Wall Street were pretty much flat last night after reaching all time highs earlier this week.
*** The US Commerce Department has confirmed plans to impose duties on imports of Bombardier C Series commercial jets. In its final determination, the department said it will impose duties of almost 300%. Bombardier employs about 1,000 people in Belfast where parts of the C series planes are made. That dispute between Bombardier and Boeing is understood to be contributing to escalating trade tensions between the US and Canada. The row stems from the sale last year of 75 C-Series jets to Delta Air Lines. Boeing claims Delta paid $20m per plane, well below an estimated cost of $33m and what Bombardier charges in Canada.
*** Stock market listed Greencoat Renewables - which invests in renewable infrastructure projects - has agreed to acquire Dromadda More, a 36 megawatt wind farm in Kerry. It is buying it from Impax Asset Management for almost €88.5m. It has also announced that it has entered into a new €250m credit facility which it will use to refinance existing debt.
*** A majority stake in Rolling Stone magazine is to be sold. Media investor Jay Penske is buying a 51% stake in the publication from New York-based Wenner Media. The 50 year old magazine is best known for covering music and pop culture, but also features political journalism and commentary.