The UK Government has announced it will be spending more than £100 million on attempting to ease any potential backlogs at channel ports in the event of a no-deal Brexit. Ironically, most of the money will be going abroad, with the lion’s share of the contracts given to DFDS, a Danish company, and Brittany Ferries, a French firm. The Department of Transport said this had been brought about by ‘unforeseeable events’.
HMV has gone into administration for the second time in six years, citing a ‘tsunami of challenges’, and highlighting once again how tough things are for anyone operating on the UK high street. While the growth in offerings from firms like Spotify and Netflix have made life in this space particularly tough, it is also more general factors like business rents and lower consumer footfall that have caused the potential loss of up to 2,200 jobs and closure of 125 stores.
Chinese factory data showed the first slowdown in over two years as December PMI’s came in at 49.4 (anything below 50 is a contraction), making the need for progress in trade talks very important for Beijing. President Trump did say that ‘big progress’ had been made in trade talks after he had spoken on the phone with Chinese Premier Xi Jinping, although the Wall St Journal did report shortly afterwards that he may have exaggerated the amount of progress made. It did at least settle the equity markets a little after their volatile week.
As the New Year approaches, now is the time to make sure you think about how you’re going to protect any planned transfers in 2019 against the risks of the markets suddenly moving. A forward contract can lock you in a fixed exchange rate for up to a year, at no extra fees, so your budget is ringfenced, no matter what happens.