The Boss's Christmas: 10 Things We Learned This Week

As the Morningstar UK editorial team wraps up for Christmas, we round up 10 big stories from the last seven days

Ollie Smith 24 December, 2021 | 9:58AM
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Bruce Springsteen

The Morningstar UK editorial team signs off for Christmas later today, but before we go, there’s just time to round off the week. Indeed, the news doesn’t stop for Christmas eve, so here is our usual instalment of “10 Things We Learned This Week”.

Investors Are Piling Into Bonds

Fixed income funds attracted nearly £5 billion in flows in November, according to the latest Morningstar data, outpacing all other asset classes and dragging overall flows into positive territory. In contrast, equity funds saw net withdrawals of just over £2 billion. A flight to bonds suggests investors are becoming cautious, as Morningstar senior editor James Gard explored in this piece.

A Fourth Jab Looks Likely

As the UK’s authorities battle to understand the severity and impact of the omicron variant, one government scientific adviser has said some people may need a fourth shot of the Covid-19 vaccine to stay protected against the virus. Professor Adam Finn is a professor of paediatrics at the University of Bristol and a member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.

The Music Don’t Stop

At the start of this year there was plenty of commentary about the influence of foreign investment on UK PLC. With days to go, another deal has come through the pipeline, and it’s a big name. A majority stake in British luxury department store Selfridges has been sold to Thai retail company Central Group (and an Austrian property firm) for around £4bn.

TikTok Has Beaten Google on Visits

Investors wondering whether to buy Google parent company Alphabet (GOOG) may wish to learn that the search engine has been overtaken in the online visits rankings by video app TikTok. Rankings by internet security company IT Cloudflare show that TikTok knocked Google off the top spot for online visits as far back as February this year. It has held the number one position since August.

Don't Pick The Winners Next Year

You shouldn't be trying to pick the winners next year. Just make sure you avoid the losers. That's the message of this excellent column featuring IG Wealth Management's chief investment strategist Philip Petursson. It is perhaps an obvious rule, but it is all the more important given recent market conditions. The going might not always be this good. Get ready to play your defensive strategy. 

Brexit Didn’t Stop Channel Trade

The beginning of the year brought Brexit. It was not clean, smooth or even “oven-ready”, but nor was it as bad as certain apocalyptic predictions had prophesied. The Office for Budget Responsibility now says the UK avoided a “reasonable worst-case scenario” of a stop to cross-channel trade. That said, trade between the European Union and the UK has missed out on the bounce-back witnessed in other areas of the global economy.

BrewDog Might Have Its Eye On The Prize

Brewdog was hit by scandal this year when former employees signed an open letter to CEO James Watt claiming the business had been a “toxic” working environment. Not to sound cynical at all, but Brewdog executives’ announcement this week that it had completed a review of its culture may be connected to its reported intention to float. Check out our round up of UK floats in 2022 by clicking here.

The Grinchbots Are Here

Shopping for Christmas presents is stressful enough without supply chain problems, let alone bots that buy up goods the moment they become available. Christmas 2021 may be unique in this regard, but it won’t be if the bots stick around for good. Something in the air suggests this may be another “new normal”, though, it must be said, not if a group of US senators has anything to do with it. Read James Gard’s analysis here.  

Cardboard Boxes Are The New Loo Roll

And speaking of shortages, it looks like cardboard boxes are the latest thing we’re running out of. And it’s not just Christmas that's the cause, either. The pandemic has accelerated consumer demand for products reliant on cardboard boxes for supply. According to the Pitney Bowes Parcel Shipping Index, there were five billion parcel shipments in the UK last year: 74 boxes per person.

Music's "On Fire"

The trend of selling back catalogues looks like its still born to run. This week, Bruce Springsteen was the latest big hitter to hand off the rights to his canon, in a deal with Sony for half a million bucks. The Boss knows a thing or two about pricing. He once said: “All I do know is as we age the weight of our unsorted baggage becomes heavier. With each passing year, the price of our refusal to do that sorting rises higher and higher.”

The information contained within is for educational and informational purposes ONLY. It is not intended nor should it be considered an invitation or inducement to buy or sell a security or securities noted within nor should it be viewed as a communication intended to persuade or incite you to buy or sell security or securities noted within. Any commentary provided is the opinion of the author and should not be considered a personalised recommendation. The information contained within should not be a person's sole basis for making an investment decision. Please contact your financial professional before making an investment decision.

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Ollie Smith  is editor of Morningstar UK