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Expert Commentary on the Latest Stocks, Currencies and Carillion’s Liquidation

Posted: 15th January 2018 by Finance Monthly
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Discussing the latest on stock markets, currencies and the news that Carillion will be heading into liquidation, Rebecca O’Keeffe, Head of Investment at interactive investor talks to Finance Monthly below.

The strength of sterling and the euro are seeing European stock markets fall slightly, as currency gains cap equity valuations. Sterling has been riding high both on the basis of a weaker US dollar and expectations of a softer Brexit than previously forecast. These currency moves are having a mixed effect on big corporates in the UK, where dollar weakness has given commodity prices a further boost with the big miners benefiting, while other big global companies are falling on the basis of lower dollar profits when converted back into sterling.

The government’s decision to walk away from Carillion appears to be based on optics rather than logic and looks like the wrong decision was made for the wrong reasons. There is no doubt that Carillion posed a huge political challenge for the government, which did not want to be seen to bail out another group of private shareholders and banks after suffering such a backlash from their decisions during the financial crisis. However, the prospect of the government temporarily funding existing Carillion public service contracts, alongside the likely increase in costs for renegotiating contracts with new suppliers, make it highly likely that they could ultimately pay far more than if they had provided the guarantees that Carillion’s creditors needed. It is far from clear at this stage what the wider implications will be from the liquidation of Carillion, both in terms of its impact on the construction industry and on the wider economy as a whole, not least from the enormous uncertainty that now afflicts the tens of thousands of Carillion staff and those other companies directly dependent upon it.

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