Understandably, individuals, companies, governments and investors have, for several weeks, been focused almost entirely on the Covid-19 pandemic and its implications. Having seen the introduction of unprecedented social restrictions in an attempt to contain the virus’ spread, large parts of the world have recently begun to take tentative steps towards easing these restrictions and building back towards more ‘normal’ social and economic conditions beyond covid-19.
Each country’s experience of the pandemic has been unique. The steps necessary to return to normality are therefore different for each nation. Similarly, the pace and success of the recovery will differ. While New Zealand, for example, appears well-placed to continue easing restrictions, evidence that infection rates in South Korea are increasing once more reminds us that the threat
posed by the coronavirus has not yet passed. Nonetheless, where safe to do so, the relaxation of social distancing measures has been welcomed by all, including investors. International stock markets have, in recent weeks, continued their relatively serene progress from the lows of late March.
Lockdown in the UK has, for many people, been made more bearable by unseasonably beautiful weather. With the guidelines set to permit small, socially distanced gatherings in gardens from next week, the temptation is to dust down the barbecue and enjoy some hard-won rest and recuperation.
Alas – for investors at least – it seldom pays to take your eye of the ball entirely. As illustrated by South Korea, the threat of a second wave of infection remains real. And, as if that were not enough, there are myriad other issues that will undoubtedly influence financial markets over the coming months and years. As ever, whether this influence is positive or negative is not predetermined: the impact on asset prices will depend on whether the outcomes are perceived to be better or worse than currently
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