Call us on: 01353 662 442   or email


January Market Commentary

Posted on: 7th Jan 2021 by: CamOuse Financial Management Limited


2020 has been a year like no other, and yet – as we will see below – the majority of world stock markets have enjoyed a good year. It was also a good year for Joe Biden, who defeated Donald Trump in November’s Presidential election, and for supporters of Brexit. 

Finally, some 4½ years after the Referendum a deal was agreed with the European Union, and the UK’s transition period ended on December 31st. 

As always, let us look at all the detail. We have also added an extra section this month, looking at the performance of the major world stock markets over the whole of 2020. 


The main news in the UK was, of course, the eventual deal with the European Union. We have covered this in our final Brexit section below. 

Away from the Brexit negotiations, the UK went into stricter new tiers at the beginning of the month just as the Pfizer vaccine was approved for use. But, with infections continuing to rise, there was little doubt that we were heading for even harsher lockdown measures. 

Quite what this will do to the beleaguered UK high street is anyone’s guess. Lockdown measures were reported to have ‘battered’ footfall in the run-up to Christmas, and December saw Bonmarché collapse into administration while Primark reported that the pandemic had wiped £430m off its balance sheet. 

Figures for Boxing Day suggested that footfall on one of the busiest shopping days of the year was down 60%, and 2020 was reported to be the worst year for retail job losses for 25 years. With the furlough scheme gradually coming to an end the news on job losses can only get worse. 

In the wider economy the UK’s unemployment rate rose to 4.8% in the three months to September, up from 4.5% in the previous month, with the Office for National Statistics reporting a record 314,000 redundancies in the period. 

Growth for the third quarter was revised upwards to 16%, but worryingly growth almost stalled in October, with the ONS reporting that the economy grew by just 0.4% in the month. Government borrowing soared in November to £31.6bn – the highest November figure ever recorded. Inflation fell to just 0.3% in November as lower prices for food and clothing drove the figure down from 0.7% in the previous month. 

Was there any good news? Yes – there was plenty of optimism amid the gloom as the Pfizer vaccine started to be rolled out. Three-quarters of small firms said that they were likely to hire staff next year and City AM reported a Lloyds Bank survey as saying that business confidence was at a nine-month high. Consumer confidence also jumped sharply on news of the vaccine. 

So much for surveys and ‘confidence.’ Let’s end the year with some tangible good news. Start-up company Britishvolt announced that it had chosen Blyth in the North East as the site of the UK’s first ever battery ‘gigaplant.’ The project will cost £2.7bn and will employ 3,000 people at the plant, which will produce lithium ion batteries for electric vehicles. It is expected that a further 5,000 jobs will be created in the supply chain. 

Although – as we report below – it had a poor year, the FTSE-100 index of leading shares did reasonably well in December, ending the month up 3% at 6,461. The pound was up 2% against the dollar at $1.3672 and was up by 3% for the year as a whole. 

Brexit & Trade 

There were plenty of newspaper headlines but – as we had always expected – a deal between the UK and the EU was agreed and the EU/UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement was passed by 521 votes to 73 in the Commons. It duly received Royal Assent and became law, with the UK’s transition period with the EU ending at 11pm on December 31st. 

There will, of course, be teething problems. Whether you think the deal is a good thing or a bad thing almost certainly depends on how you voted in the Referendum. For all the sound and fury since then, we doubt that many people have changed their minds. 

The UK signed a free trade deal with Turkey at the end of the month, and there will unquestionably be more deals signed this year. 

…But it seems appropriate to leave the final word on Brexit to Boris Johnson, the man who will go down in history as the Prime Minister who took the UK out of the European Union. Here’s what the PM had to say: 

‘People used to insist that you couldn’t have both: you couldn’t have unfettered free trade with the EU, we were assured, without conforming to EU laws. You couldn’t have your cake and eat it. Maybe it would be unduly provocative to say this is a cake-ist treaty; but it is certainly from the patisserie department.’

With that insightful – and calorie-laden – analysis, and after more than 50 appearances, it is time to say goodbye to the Brexit section of the bulletin. 


Like the UK, Europe spent much of December introducing various new degrees of lockdown. Italy announced a Christmas and New Year lockdown – and will presumably have a wary eye on the Chinese New Year on February 12th, which did so much to spread the virus in the North of the country last year. Germany introduced a raft of new restrictions and Spain said that it would keep a register of those people who refused to be vaccinated against Covid-19. 

Tesla’s plans for a new ‘gigafactory’ in Germany have been beset by objections from environmentalists. Preparations once again came to a halt in December, as campaigners won a court injunction, arguing that the site will endanger local species of snakes and lizards. 

More optimistically, Ryanair has agreed to buy a further 75 new Boeing 737 aircraft, bringing the total number of jets it has ordered to 210 – a major vote of confidence in the future of the aviation and holiday industries. The total value of the deal is $22bn (£16bn). 

It was also reported that the EU was on the brink of a ‘major investment deal’ with China, which will give EU firms better access to the Chinese market. Talks on the deal started in 2014 – which really illustrates how quickly the Brexit negotiations were concluded. 

December was a reasonably good month for the two major European markets we cover in the bulletin. The German DAX index rose 3% to close the month at 13,719 while the French stock market was up just 1% at 5,551. 


Two weeks from writing this, the US will have a new President: Joe Biden will be inaugurated as the 46th President on January 20th, beginning a four year term with Kamala Harris as his Vice-President. 

So far his administration includes many of the stalwarts of the Obama and Clinton years, with Biden naming Janet Yellen – former Chair of the Federal Reserve – as his new Treasury Secretary. 

The big challenge for the new team will be getting America back to work. The economy added 245,000 jobs in November, below many economists’ expectations. The jobless rate did fall from 6.9% to 6.7%, but it was believed to be because many people stopped looking for work over the holiday season. Worryingly, some key virus relief programmes, including some unemployment benefits, are now due to expire. 

In company news Airbnb made its debut on the stock market and saw its value exceed $100bn (£73bn) while Uber announced it was selling its self-driving cars and flying taxi divisions for the rather novel business idea of ‘concentrating on profits.’ 

The month ended with a deal finally being reached to approve a $900bn (£657bn) Covid stimulus package – and with continuing warnings of a cyber-attack on the US government. The New York Stock Exchange announced that it would de-list three Chinese telecoms giants due to supposed links to the Chinese military. 

With or without the Chinese companies Wall Street enjoyed a good month. The Dow Jones index closed above 30,000 – ending the month up 3% at 30,606. The more broadly-based S&P500 index was up 4% at 3,756. 

Far East 

December started with a report that China was escalating its ‘tit-for-tat’ trade war with the US, introducing tough new laws restricting the export of products – notably military technologies – that might harm China’s national security. 

As we have seen above, the US took action against three Chinese telecoms companies at the end of the month. From January 20th though, China will have a new administration to deal with: US intelligence officers are already saying that Chinese agents are stepping up their attempts to influence ‘Team Biden.’ 

Continuing the cloak and dagger theme, the Chinese authorities maintained their crackdown on fintech companies and – as we write on the morning of January 4th – there are concerns over the whereabouts of Jack Ma, billionaire co-founder of the Alibaba Group, who hasn’t been seen in public since he criticised the regime back in October. 

Events were rather more peaceful across the China Sea, with the Japanese government announcing a further Covid stimulus for the economy. The additional spending – amounting to 73.6tn yen (£530bn) will include subsidies for green investment and spending on digitalisation and is aimed at pulling the country out of its Covid-induced economic slump. 

There was certainly no slump on the region’s stock markets in December. China’s Shanghai Composite index rose 2% to 3,473: the Hong Kong market was up 3% to 27,231 and Japan’s Nikkei Dow rose 4% to 27,444. The South Korean market spoiled our neat arithmetic progression by having an excellent month, rising 11% to close December at 2,873. 

Emerging Markets 

There was good news for India in the month, with an article in City AM stating that ‘India will be the big winner of the new world order.’ The writer suggested that the more China pressures India – witness the recent skirmishes in the  disputed border region – the more India will ally itself with the US, and reap the consequent economic benefits. 

We shall see… In the short term December was a good month for the Indian stock market, which rose 8% to close at 47,751. The Brazilian index went one point better, rising 9% to 119,017 while the Russian market was up 6% to 3,289. 

World Stock Markets in 2020 

No doubt if someone had said to you on January 1st ‘there’ll be a global pandemic and the world will still be battling it on December 31st’ you may have been confident of all the world’s stock markets falling. 

That is very far from the case: with the world’s central banks pumping money into global economies some markets have had very good years. Leading the way is the South Korean market, which is up 31% this year. Elsewhere in the Far East Japan rose by 16% and China’s Shanghai Composite index rose 14%: the only major market in the region to fall was Hong Kong, which dropped by 3%. 

In Europe the German DAX index rose by 4% in 2020, but the French market was down 7%. Sadly the UK’s FTSE-100 index was down by 14% – the worst performance of all the markets we cover in the bulletin, and the worst year for the FTSE since the financial crisis. 

In the US the Dow Jones index was up 7%, while the S&P500 index rose by 16%. We don’t report on it in the bulletin, but the Nasdaq index – the US’ index of tech stocks – was up by an eye-watering 42% in 2020. 

India led the way in our Emerging Markets section, with the stock market up by 16% in the year: the Russian market rose 8% and the Brazilian index was up by 3%. 

And Finally…

2020 – despite all the serious headlines – was a good year for the ‘And finally’ section of the bulletin. December certainly lived up to the year’s high standards, and began with Australian teenager Jessica Collins. Jess grew up on a mango farm in Queensland and – frustrated by how many mangoes go to waste – turned 1,400 unwanted fruits into a dress for a school project. 

Clearly Jess won’t have any time for video games, which is a shame as Kentucky Fried Chicken have launched a games console which will also warm up your chicken. “The chicken chamber will keep the contents hot, ready to eat during intense gaming sessions,” said KFC. And no, it is not April 1st. 

…But will Earth survive until April 1st? It appears that our planet has failed the interview and will not be admitted to the Galactic Federation. 

According to professor and retired Israeli general Haim Eshed – and reports in several papers – there is a Galactic Federation of alien species among the stars. But they don’t want us humans to be part of their club , as we’re ‘not ready.’ The aliens won’t make this known publicly as they are worried that we’ll ‘freak out.’ They have, however, contacted President Trump who may be on the verge of revealing their existence. 

We’d better wish you a Happy New Year while we still can. With the aliens’ permission, we will be back at the start of February: in the meantime our very best wishes go to all our clients for a happy, healthy and prosperous 2021.

Speak your mind

1 2 3 4 5

  • I thought CamOuse were very helpful and dealt with my enquiries promptly.

    5 out of 5

    D Mowatt

    Clive Nickalls

  • I have been a client of CamOuse's for many years. My advisors have provided assistance with mortgages, financial planning, investments and most importantly my future. The team remain passionate and professional and I would recommend CamOuse without question.

    5 out of 5

    L Isbell

    Trevor Honey & Clive Nickalls

  • The staff are always happy to help.

    5 out of 5

    J Pearce

  • Lee has always given me excellent advice when choosing a new mortgage. I would highly recommend him.

    5 out of 5

    R O'Dell

    Lee Pooley

  • Everyone is very friendly, approchable, helpful and professional.

    5 out of 5

    G Parr

    Trevor Honey

  • I would like to thank Lee for all his help, he was amazing!

    5 out of 5

    Silk & Schwarz

    Lee Pooley

  • Lee was recommended to us by 2 of his existing clients, colleagues and friends of ours and I'm glad they did so! He made the whole process much simpler then we were expecting.

    5 out of 5

    Burgess & Bedford

    Lee Pooley

  • Lee has helped us on several occassions and we always appreciate and value his time and efforts.

    5 out of 5

    I & A Murphy

    Lee Pooley

  • I really appreciate the prompt, friendly, efficient service.

    5 out of 5

    V Hardy

    Clive Nickalls

  • Very pleased with the service provided and happy to recommend to my customers and friends and family.

    5 out of 5

    M Chadburn

    Clive Nickalls

  • I would like to express my thanks for the excellent service I have received and a special thank you to Hannah for keeping me updated and dealing with my queries in a very efficient and professional manner.

    5 out of 5

    T Long

    Matthew Theobald

  • Thank you (and Eve) so much for all your help and support towards our remortgage. We really appreciated your expertise.

    5 out of 5

    Cant & Robbins

    Lee Pooley

  • I would just like to thank you all on behalf of myself and Jordan. You, Eve and Max have been faultless and we couldn’t be more appreciative for all your help!

    5 out of 5

    C Baldwin

    Lee Pooley

  • Lee has provided me with mortgages and appropriate insurance for both my home and lease properties. He is professional and works to get policies in place in an extremely quick time frame. I would certainly recommend Lee and CamOuse to anyone and I personally will continue to use their service.

    5 out of 5

    G Habbin

    Lee Pooley

  • I have been a client of CamOuse Financial Management Ltd for many years and have always found their services to be of the highest quality.

    5 out of 5

    N Parker

    Jo Kurz

  • Amazing company, very friendly, professional, and always on hand to give sound advice. My family has been utilising their expertise for many years and have never been let down.

    5 out of 5

    S Bradley

    Jo Kurz

  • Sound financial advice and planning. Responsive and friendly service.

    5 out of 5

    B O'Connor

    Jo Kurz

  • The whole team at CamOuse are friendly, professional and always look after your best interests. Thanks for your help!

    5 out of 5

    G Hall

    Lee Pooley

  • We've only been with CamOuse just over a year but would highly recommend them. We deal with Matthew who is an excellent adviser, always very responsive to questions and goes the extra mile to help.

    5 out of 5

    P Carter

    Matthew Theobald

  • I was so pleased and relieved to find this company.  Particularly pleasing is their communication - it's jargon-free, concise and clear.  We've been very happy with advice given thus far, and also their responsiveness whenever we've had any queries.

    5 out of 5

    A Cant

    Jo Kurz

  • We used Lee at Camouse to arrange our mortgage and can highly recommend him to provide an honest and professional service in this area. We will certainly return to Lee for remortgage advice in the future.

    5 out of 5

    A Attewell

    Lee Pooley

  • Would like to extend our thanks to you and your team for a fantastic customer service as always.

    5 out of 5

    E & R Mendoza

    Lee Pooley

  • We paid a small fee to Camouse for whole of market mortgage broker services. As first time buyers, Lee and Eve were able to guide us through the process, find us a deal and sort out the applications in a really helpful friendly and efficient way. We were very satisfied and would recommend CamOuse to others for this service.

    5 out of 5

    L Humphrey

    Lee Pooley

  • I was extremely pleased with the quality of the service I received when arranging a mortgage as part of a house sale and purchase through CamOuse. Lee and Eve were very easy to contact and always quick to respond. I would definitely recommend their mortgage arrangement services.

    5 out of 5

    G Dewdney

    Lee Pooley

  • Jo has been extremely helpful and very patient and I will be recommending her highly to other family and friends of mine. I do sincerely appreciate the way Jo handled my issues and also the excellent and very professional way she conducted business. She is an absolute asset to CamOuse.

    5 out of 5

    C Tate

    Jo Kurz

  • CamOuse have been our go-to financial advisers since 2008 and have assisted with numerous mortgages, remortgages, insurances, and general financial advice. Lee Pooley and Eve Nowakowska have been invaluable during this time. We've built up an excellent relationship with both and trust them completely to do what's in our best interests. Both are an absolute pleasure to work with and I cannot recommend them, and by extension CamOuse, enough!

    5 out of 5

    I Murphy

    Lee Pooley

  • We used the services of CamOuse to help in buying our first home and setting up our mortgage and we were extremely happy with all the advice and help we got. We spoke to Lee mostly, who was really great! Very insightful, very friendly and helpful, very patient and all-round great service. Would happily seek their help again. Many thanks Lee!

    5 out of 5

    C Bolas

    Lee Pooley

  • We have been taking mortgage advice from CamOuse for over 20 years and are always impressed by their friendliness and professionalism.

    5 out of 5

    N Amery

    Lee Pooley

  • Thank you to Matthew and Julie for making a huge difference in my life when I thought I was so stuck and felt there was never going to be a way to move forward.

    5 out of 5

    L Smith

    Matthew Theobald

CamOuse Financial Management is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

None of the information contained in this website should be considered as personal recommendation and is for information only. Should you wish to make a financial transaction we recommend that you take personal financial advice after a thorough review of your personal and financial circumstances.

The information contained within the website is subject to the UK regulatory regime and is therefore primarily targets at customers in the UK.

Registered address: Unit 111, Lancaster Way Business Park, Ely, Cambridgeshire, CB6 3NX

Registered in England and Wales. Registered No: 5662116.

Peninsula: Accredited Standard

Understanding the true cost to your business

Pension arrangements must be available for all employees. There are three categories of employee:


Aged between 22 and State Pension Age (SPA) with qualifying earnings over the Auto Enrolment earnings trigger


Aged between 16 – 74 with qualifying earnings between lower threshold and the Auto Enrolment earnings trigger
Aged between 16 -21 or SPA – 74 with qualifying earnings over Auto Enrolment earnings threshold


Aged between 16 -74 with earnings below the qualifying earnings lower threshold

Important Notes

  1. Eligible jobholders must be auto-enrolled
  2. Non-eligible jobholders are allowed to be auto-enrolled if they want to
  3. Entitled workers are entitled to join a pension scheme, but the employer doesn't have to contribute

Qualifying Earnings lower threshold


Qualifying Earnings upper threshold


Automatic Enrolment earnings trigger


Minimum contribution level options:

8% of Qualifying Earnings of which

3% is employer's (starting at 1%)

9% of Basic Salary of which

4% is employer's (starting at 2%)

8% of Basic Salary of which

3% is employer's (starting at 1%)

(Where basic salary is at least 85% of total earnings)

7% of gross earnings of which

3% is employer's (starting at 1%)

Pay reference period

Essentially the frequency that the jobholder is paid e.g. monthly, weekly etc. but with reference to the tax month, week etc. therefore it may not be the same as the payroll period.

Deduction and payment of contributions

It is the employer who is responsible to calculate, deduct and pay all contributions to the AE scheme. NOTE – the first and last contributions are likely to be for less than a full pay reference period and should be adjusted accordingly.

Payroll services

It can be seen that it is very important that the payroll system synchronises with the AE scheme otherwise the employer will not be carrying out all requirements and then penalties will be incurred.

Staging date

Based on the employer’s payroll size as at 1 April 2012 and can be found at using your PAYE reference. The Qualifying Workplace Pension Scheme must be registered with The Pensions Regulator within 4 months of the staging date.

Compliance and communication


Auto-Enrolment can be postponed for up to 3 months:

  • For current eligible employees
  • For workers that meet the criteria in the future for the first time e.g. avoid joining temporary or lower paid workers


All eligible employees must be auto-enrolled, but can, with the correct notification, opt-out within one month of joining the scheme and be treated as never having joined. They can opt back in and will automatically be auto-enrolled every 3 years in any case!


There is a wide range of information that must be provided to all employees at certain times, such as:

  • The date auto-enrolment took place for eligible jobholders
  • That non-eligible jobholders have the statutory right to opt in
  • Entitled workers have the right to request the employer to enrol them into a pension scheme

Salary sacrifice

Contributions can be paid by effectively reducing salary, which saves on NI contributions, but employee must choose to do this – they cannot be forced, so a contractual variation will need to be implemented.

Default investment fund

Investment Options

All eligible employees will be automatically invested into a default investment fund, which is a balanced risk fund that is “life styled” to account for the employees approach to retirement. They also have the option to invest in a wide range of funds of their choosing.