WEEKEND WEB: Markets stumble as clouds rumble

Scott Woods
Scott Woods
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Scott Woods, of Bingham-Woods Independent Financial Advisors, writes our Money Matters column.

Global company shares (equities) were mixed, as anxieties about the North Korean missile crisis and the economic impact of hurricane damage, led investors towards perceived safe havens.

Gold continued recent strength, reaching its highest level in a year. Government bonds were also strong, the yield on the 10-year US Treasury falling to 2.03 per cent, its lowest level since the US presidential election of November 2016 (yields move inversely to prices).

Oil firmed as hurricanes disrupted production.

• The European Central Bank (ECB) indicated it just might make a decision next month about whether and when it should start scaling back its massive purchases of euro-area assets.

“Naturally one thinks about risks that may materialise in the coming weeks or months, so that is the caution behind not specifying a date,” ECB president Mario Draghi told journalists, before adding “Probably the bulk of these decisions will be taken in October.” He also said officials were monitoring fluctuations in the value of the euro, which promptly jumped towards its highest level since 2015.

• No cash, credit card, or smartphone? No problem, just smile to pay. That’s now possible, in China, thanks to tech giant Alibaba’s new facial recognition system, now live at a KFC restaurant in Hangzhou. After selecting a meal, customers can authenticate payment by having their faces scanned for one or two seconds and cross-referenced with a government database.

Currently, they also punch in their mobile number for security. Meanwhile, shareholders in Alibaba also have reason to smile. The shares, which are listed on the New York Stock Exchange, are up 91.5 per cent year to date.

The value of investments and the income they produce can fall as well as rise. You may get back less than you invested.