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Look beyond the headlines for Brexit impact

Ed Monk

Ed Monk - Fidelity Personal Investing

If you don’t like the current headlines about Brexit, just wait a few minutes.

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Developments at Westminster have been moving so quickly that it’s possible to find reports offering support for every conceivable Brexit outcome, if you look hard enough.

No Deal is off the table, but it might come back on at the end of trade discussions next year. Boris Johnson has asked for an extension of our EU membership beyond 31 October, but he’s also said he won’t negotiate one. The numbers for a deal are there in Parliament, but the whole thing could be amended and a referendum, election, or both, could still happen.

If you gave up following every Brexit twist and turn some time ago, you would not be alone.

In terms of the effect on markets, all these different signals might appear to be cancelling each other out. The UK stock market is higher today than on the day of the 2016 referendum result, and that’s true whether you look at the FTSE 100 of the largest companies, the more domestic FTSE 250 or the FTSE All Share that captures the entire main market.

There have certainly been movements up and down within that period - and a currency effect whereby falls for the pound have helped some UK share prices - but anyone investing in the whole of the UK market since 2016 will have seen prices continue to move in line with the long-run market trend.

You only see the more violent impact of Brexit on share prices when you look at a company specific level. This is what analysis from JPMorgan Cazenove, reported in the Financial Times this weekend, has sought to do.

It compared returns from a basket of large companies which derive their revenues from the UK - think Lloyds Bank and Sainsbury’s - with those from big overseas earners - like BP - in the period since the referendum result. It showed a 5% loss for the UK-facing companies at a near 26% gain for the foreign earners. The trend is the same even when currency movements are accounted for.

The work showed that the average discount for the domestic-earners versus the foreign-earners has been about 25%-35% in the post-referendum period. It drifted out to as much as 45% when pessimism of a deal was at its highest this summer, but has fallen since then.

This stratification of the UK market is unlikely to be unwound while the possible Brexit outcomes remain so diverse - and it appears they continue to be for a while longer.

Dealing with volatile markets and striking the right balance between risk and reward is one of the subjects tackled in a new video series from Fidelity Personal Investing - Invest for Life.

Important information: The value of investments and the income from them can go down as well as up, so you may get back less than you invest. Investors should note that the views expressed may no longer be current and may have already been acted upon. Overseas investments will be affected by movements in currency exchange rates. Reference to specific securities should not be construed as a recommendation to buy or sell these securities and is included for the purposes of illustration only. This information is not a personal recommendation for any particular investment. If you are unsure about the suitability of an investment you should speak to an authorised financial adviser.

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