Expert View: It's been a rollercoaster year

By Elissa Bayer, March 11, 2010

Pundits suggested 2010 would be challenging as it would be difficult to predict where markets might go and investors would be unlikely to see the returns achieved in 2009.

The first quarter has been a rollercoaster with the Greeks seeking financial aid, new issues being announced then pulled at the last moment as they found a lack of suitors, and bankers giving up bonuses. Not only did the bosses at Barclays, Lloyds and RBS forego their bonuses, but the chief executive of HSBC, Michael Geoghegan, and Peter Sands of Standard Chartered announced they would take their bonuses but give a substantial amount to charity - an unexpected windfall for those who need it.

The other clear theme is emerging markets as China, India and Brazil are coming up with growth figures that leave the developed world standing.

At a time when the UK's AAA rating is under threat, India's recent budget still predicts growth of 8 per cent. Every morning, emails arrive announcing new offices being set up in China, Hong Kong and Mumbai. The West clearly sees the East as not only a source of growth, but an area where they need to be seen.

Fidelity's Anthony Bolton has postponed his retirement to launch a £650 million fund in China and JP Morgan is launching a Brazilian Trust. Listening to the development stories and the infrastructure products being planned, we can only look at the potholes in our roads and hope for better times.

The UK market continues to provide areas of hope, and this is a stock picking market where individual days are mixed. The commodity story continues to run and with all the project announced from the East, there is no shortage of demand for copper, steel and iron ore.

The Third World continues to smoke and British American Tobacco, despite lawsuits from the West, shows a sharp increase in its share price and provides a large dividend as well.

Shareholders have seen significant falls in their dividend income over the past year, particularly from the banks, so companies that not only pay a dividend but have the ability to increase will certainly be in demand.

All this and it is only the first quarter of the year. With an election in the second quarter, the Year of the Tiger is sharpening its claws.

Elissa Bayer is a Director of private clients at Charles Stanley

Last updated: 11:06am, March 11 2010