The value of investments and any income from them can fall and you may get back less than you invested.

House prices continue to weaken


An inconclusive election result in Italy, and fears of a trade war sparked by the Trump administration’s protectionist agenda, formed an uncertain backdrop to the week’s economic news.

In the US, Gary Cohn - Donald Trump’s top economic adviser - resigned, reportedly in response to the President’s insistence on imposing new tariffs on steel and aluminium imports. He is expected to comment later in the week.

Meanwhile in the UK, survey data showed activity in the all-important services sector growing at its fastest rate for four months in February.

The closely-watched IHS Markit/CIPS purchasing managers’ index (PMI) rose to 54.5 in February from 53.0 in January. Readings above 50 indicate expansion. IHS Markit said growth was supported by strong job creation across the sector.

UK car sales slowed again in February, though the pace of decline steadied, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. Sales of new cars fell 2.8% last month compared to the year before. February is traditionally a slow month for the car market ahead of the March number plate change. 

House prices continue to soften, according to Halifax. The annual rate of price growth slowed to 1.8% in the three months to February, and property values were 0.7% lower than in the previous quarter.

Managing director Russell Galley said: “House prices continue to remain broadly flat, as they have since the end of last year. The annual rate of growth has slowed from 2.2% in January to 1.8% in February, the lowest rate of growth since March 2013.”

But, he added: “While we expect price growth to remain low, the low mortgage rate environment, combined with an ongoing shortage of properties for sale, should continue to support house prices over the coming months.”

The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors’ Residential Market Survey also found prices were flat in February, with London seeing price falls. New buyer enquiries - a leading indicator of demand - decreased for an 11th consecutive month in February.

Samuel Tombs, chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics said: “Demand hasn’t fallen for such a protracted period since the 2008 financial crisis. We fear that demand will continue to fall rapidly over the coming months, as new mortgage rates pick up.”

Meanwhile, manufacturing in the UK notched up its ninth consecutive month of growth - the longest period of expansion on record - boosted by global economic growth and the weaker pound.

Manufacturing grew by 0.1% in January compared to December, the Office for National Statistics said. Total industrial production, which includes the UK’s North Sea oil and gas fields as well as utilities such as water and gas, grew by 1.3%.

However, UK construction output fell at its fastest annual pace in January since 2013, according to the ONS.

“Construction continues to be a weak spot in the UK economy with a big drop in commercial developments, along with a slowdown in housebuilding,” said ONS senior statistician Ole Black.

Click here to read this week's Market Roundup and Company Focus on Ashtead 

Important Notes:

Main source of information: Company Report and Accounts, Bloomberg


The value of investments can fall and you may get back less than you invested. No investment is suitable in all cases and if you have any doubts as to an investment's suitability then you should contact us. We or a connected person may have positions in or options on the securities mentioned herein or may buy, sell or offer to make a purchase or sale of such securities from time to time. In addition we reserve the right to act as principal or agent with regard to the sale or purchase of any security mentioned in this document. For further information, please refer to our conflicts policy. If you invest in currencies other than your own, fluctuations in currency value will mean that the value of your investment will move independently of the underlying asset. The opinions expressed in this document are not necessarily the views held throughout Brewin Dolphin Ltd. The information contained in this document is believed to be reliable and accurate, but without further investigation cannot be warranted as to accuracy or completeness.

Brewin Dolphin Ltd, a member of the London Stock Exchange, authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered office: 12 Smithfield Street London EC1A 9BD. Registered in England and Wales no 215876.

Valued by our clients

With 32 offices across the UK, Channel Islands and Ireland we combine the best of local understanding with national scale and perspective.