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2016 a pivot in history

2016 ended on an optimistic note; thank God, as it had really started badly. I left the blocks in 2016 in an ideal position by anticipating the correction to come and keeping a sizable horde of cash on the side to invest at the right time.

That right time appeared to come towards the end of January, when European equities were down 16%. So I delved head-on into the fray, when others were selling, I was fearlessly buying. Presto! I was making two, three, and five per cent in a few days. Then, in a matter of days, the equity market reprised its downward spiral. By the time the bloodbath was over equities were down another 11 per cent. The cool factor became a shiver, the warm feeling of success; cold despair.

By June, light appeared somewhere in the distance. A recovery from rock bottom was on its way, until, the light baited us into another sinkhole. June was the Brexit month and it went all so wrong. The smart money seemed to be all out for a ‘remain’ vote. Betting agencies, currency markets financial assets and polls all suggested and easy victory.

European history changed violently early morning on June 24 as 52% of votes cast were in favour of leaving the EU. European Equities dropped 11 per cent; we were back to square one.

Luckily, the sell presented blatant buying opportunities that investors, hungry for returns, snapped up. The market had recovered all losses by September and was preparing for the next sleeping policemen, the US election.

Towards the end of September rumour surfaced that the ECB would start considering scaling down its quantitative easing programme.  This only meant one thing, higher yields. Pulling out of long-term fixed income at the very peak was the first real victory of the year.

Armoured by experience from the Brexit vote, the US election was navigated with perfection. This proved to be the turning point in 2016, and not even a lost referendum in Italy could derail the rally that followed.

European equities closed the year marginally above their open a year earlier, but what a year it was.  2016 will probably be remembered as a turning point, both for financial markets and geopolitics. As a consequence of events in 2016, 2017 will get Trump, Brexit negotiations, a resurgent Russia, a more difficult Turkey, a pissed-off China and much more.

With hindsight I dare even claim that 2016 was more difficult than 2008. Back then, the Lehman episode caused deep disruptions that none of the events experience last year matched. However, in 2016 there was no holiday from the roller coaster ride and the ramifications from the events will probably ripple for years to come. 

Disclaimer: This article was issued by Antoine Briffa, Investment Manager at Calamatta Cuschieri. For more information visit, www.cc.com.mt. The information, view and opinions provided in this article is being provided solely for educational and informational purposes and should not be construed as investment advice, advice concerning particular investments or investment decisions, or tax or legal advice. Calamatta Cuschieri Investment Services Ltd has not verified and consequently neither warrants the accuracy nor the veracity of any information, views or opinions appearing on this website.

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