By Josephine Mason and Helen Reid
LONDON (Reuters) – A stellar rally in Britain’s top stock index this year will run out of steam as uncertainty over the nation’s torturous exit from the EU saps investor appetite for the world’s fifth largest economy, a Reuters poll found.
The median forecast was for the to reach 7,100 by June and 7,185 by the end of 2019, just a touch higher than current levels, a survey of almost 30 fund managers and analysts taken in the past two weeks showed.
That is much lower than the previous survey carried out at the end of November, which pegged the blue chip index as high as 7,500 by the end of 2019.
The outlook illustrates the darkening mood among investors in recent months and suggests gains in the UK stock market, long shunned by international investors amid Brexit uncertainty, have likely run their course.
The FTSE is up over 6 percent since the start of the year.
Participants gave a similarly subdued assessment of European bourses.
Stock markets have staged a remarkable rebound from the historic rout that swept across equities in the final three months of 2018, fuelled by dovish comments from the Federal Reserve, economic stimulus in China and easing trade tensions between Beijing and Washington.
That has for now offset concerns about a global economic slowdown.
Patrick Moonen, principal strategist at NN Investment Partners, reckons the positive trend could continue, albeit at a much lower speed given how much institutional cash has piled into equities so far this year.
“Trade and Brexit remain two of the biggest risk factors that can make or break the market rebound,” he said.
“From a relative point of view, Europe is our least preferred region due to relatively weak macro data and earnings momentum. Europe is also the region where a lot of political risks come together.”
(Graphic: FTSE 100 recovery link: https://tmsnrt.rs/2UbCUY7).
Much depends on the deadlock over Brexit with the March 29 deadline for Britain’s exit from the bloc fast approaching. Investors have steered clear of UK stocks even as concerns the nation would crash out of the EU without a deal have eased.
Over the past two weeks, London’s exporter-heavy FTSE 100 has come under pressure due to the stronger pound while the pan-European has extended its gains.
The survey was conducted before Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday offered MPs a vote on whether Britain should leave without a deal and on a delay to Brexit.
“Reducing uncertainty around the Brexit deal could help, it’s a step in the right direction but there’s still a way to go,” said Emmanuel Cau, head of European equity strategy at Barclays (LON:).
(Graphic: FTSE vs STOXX link: https://tmsnrt.rs/2UbMCcT).
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