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And just like that, everything changed

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By Michael O’Connor

I spoke last week about the fragility of the most recent upward trend in markets.

We are in the interlude between inflation peaking and economic data slowing, a momentary sweet spot if you will.

Well, the interlude is over, and the sweet spot is no more, ground to a shuddering halt by a direct and concise message of intent from Fed chair Jerome Powell on Friday.

“While higher interest rates, slower growth, and softer labour market conditions will bring down inflation, they will also bring some pain to households and businesses. These are the unfortunate costs of reducing inflation but a failure to restore price stability would mean far greater pain.”

In short, don’t be surprised to see more market volatility and economic pain as interest rates continue to rise in an effort to cool inflation.

Sometimes pain is for the greater good, apparently.

Outlook

After clawing back over 50% of their losses, stocks are at a crossroads.

As we move away from inflationary woes toward economic growth concerns, market uncertainty will most likely result in back-and-forth trading with no clear direction in site.

As I mentioned previously, the V-shaped recoveries we have come to know and love over the last 2+ years are far less likely.

The liquidity and support that fuelled previous reversals are now being stripped out of markets. Fundamentals will continue to be reset to account for this.

Expectations will need to be moderate as we enter a period of slower growth.

My Predictions

None of the major asset classes looks overly attractive in this market over the short term.

Stocks and bonds continue to reset, and the point of entry remains unclear given the risks that remain.

With that said, buyers remain on the sidelines and using any pullbacks as a chance to top up on high-quality stocks with strong free cash flow is advised.

Although fundamentals are being reset as future earnings get revised downwards, many of these high-quality names are more profitable than ever and have the capital on hand to buy-up market opportunities where they see fit.

Funding these purchases by reducing your positions in non-profitable growth is also advised.

Many of the pandemic high-flyers will continue to bleed out.

Supply/demand issues should keep oil prices elevated over the medium term but expect considerable volatility. Some high dividend energy companies should provide some attractive yields in the process.

Bonds continue to add to their allure as the equity risk premium gets reduced, but interest rates have yet to reach their ceiling. With that said, the 10-year Treasury at 3.5% seems like a solid entry point to build up long-term exposure.

While I believe that interest rates will be higher for longer, I don’t believe that rates can remain elevated for very long, making treasuries an interesting investment.

The current aggressive Fed policy that brings interest rates to these higher levels will initiate an economic slowdown that is only alleviated by reducing the very rates that caused the slowdown in the first place.

And round and round we go.

For free weekly stock tips and direct access to my personal investment portfolio, go to www.theislandinvestor.com.

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Is it a good time to sell your property?

By Ted Healy of DNG TED HEALY Recently published property outlooks are suggesting single digit growth in prices this year. The MyHome.ie quarterly report found the market had held up […]

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By Ted Healy of DNG TED HEALY

Recently published property outlooks are suggesting single digit growth in prices this year.

The MyHome.ie quarterly report found the market had held up better than evidence had suggested in 2022. The number of vendors cutting asking prices remained at low levels, while many house prices were being settled above asking prices.

However, the report warned that the resilience of the housing marking is set to be tested this year. It found annual asking price inflation slowed to six percent nationwide, meaning the asking price for the average home in Ireland is now €330,000.

There were 15,000 available properties for sale on MyHome.ie in the fourth quarter of the year – an improvement on the same time last year but still below pre-pandemic levels.

Average time to sale agreed was 2.7 months nationwide which the report said is indicative of a very tight housing market.

The report said it expects to see 28,400 house completions in 2022, exceeding its previous forecast of 26,500 finished units.

The author of the report, Conall MacCoille, Chief Economist at stockbrokers Davy, said it appeared the market had held up better than evidence had suggested.

“The number of vendors cutting their asking prices is still at low levels. Also, transactions in Q4 were still being settled above asking prices, indicative of a tight market,” he said.

Recent months had seen worrying trends in the homebuilding sector, with housing starts slowing, and the construction PMI survey pointing to the flow of new development drying up.

“We still expect housing completions will pick up to 28,400 in 2022 and 27,000 in 2023. However, the outlook for 2024 is far more uncertain. The Government’s ambitious plans to expedite planning processes are welcome although, as ever, the proof will be in the pudding,” he added.

Locally, and unsurprisingly, the lack of supply of new and second-hand properties remains the dominant issue. There has been very little new construction due largely to the rising cost of construction, labour, materials and utilities which in turn is putting pressure on the second hand market.

This market proved particularly strong in 2022 with active bidding experienced on the majority of house sales and a large proportion of guide prices being generally exceeded.

The detached family home end of the market is particularly strong with increased competition for a limited number of available well located family homes.

So, what lies ahead and is it a good time to sell your property?

The answer is a tight market with scarcity of supply being a factor. If selling now you will benefit greatly from a lack of supply of available homes (therefore less competition) provided your property is marketed correctly of course!

For anyone considering placing their property on the market, contact DNG Ted Healy 064 6639000 killarney@dng.ie for genuine honest advice on how to achieve the best possible price for your home.

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Tourism VAT rate should be “continued indefinitely”

A Kerry Fianna Fáil Councillor believes the current 9% tourism VAT rate should be continued indefinitely despite “the allegation that some hotels were not passing on the saving to its […]

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A Kerry Fianna Fáil Councillor believes the current 9% tourism VAT rate should be continued indefinitely despite “the allegation that some hotels were not passing on the saving to its customers”.

The reduced VAT rate of 9% was introduced by the Government in response to the challenges posed by COVID-19 to the hospitality sector.

“I believe a return to a 13.5% Tourism VAT rate would be counterproductive at this stage, to small and medium businesses that welcome visitors to our country and our county,” Councillor Michael Cahill said.

“Catered food is already charged at 13.5%, alcohol at 23% and accommodation presently at 9%. This sector is providing pretty decent returns to the Exchequer and should be supported. All parties in this debate, including the Government and accommodation providers, should review their position and ensure their actions do not contribute to ‘killing the Goose that laid the Golden Egg’.”

He explained that the tourism industry is “in a very volatile market”, as can be seen by the enormous challenges “posed by COVID-19 in recent years”.

“A grain of rice could tip the balance either way and great care must be taken not to damage it irreparably. We are all aware that the next six to 12 months will be extremely difficult for many businesses with the increase in the cost of oil and gas, etc,, and a return to the 13.5% VAT rate will, in my opinion, close many doors. If a minority are ‘price gouging’, then it should be possible to penalise them and continue to support the majority who offer value for money to our visitors.”

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