This week we'd like to give you a brief update on the markets, as there has been a considerable amount of "noise" on this topic in the recent news media.


What's happened in recent times?

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 20.7 points, or 0.36 per cent, to close at 5774.6 at 1615 on Friday. That's still a gain of 2.8 per cent for the week and 6.8 per cent since the index's Christmas Eve low. The Australian dollar spiked above 72 US cents on the release of better-than-expected November retail trade data, trading at 72.16 cents on Friday. Australians spent $26.12 billion on retail sales in November, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics data. Property in Melbourne and Sydney has dropped significantly since their higher levels this time last year, and the Brisbane market is holding steady for now.

What This Means For You:

Markets currently have some uncertainty to deal with, and the "elephant in the room" for Australian markets is the upcoming federal election to be called later this year. If Labor is elected, we may yet see a further drop in the price of bank shares if Bill Shorten is able to pass his unpopular franking credit changes. Bank shares, in particular, have arguably been favoured by investors for some years due to the added benefits of franked dividend income. The fallout of the Banking Royal Commission may also impact the bank share prices, though some are suggesting this has already been priced into the current value of these companies.

The markets are now down around 13% lower than they were a few months ago, and despite the current levels of uncertainty, we're reminded that markets have a correction on average of at least once per year. 2018 saw two of those corrections, but the 2017 year was smooth sailing in an upwards direction.

Our reminder to investors early in the year is to hold tight during a correction and to try and view this as an opportunity to invest at a lower price than you would have otherwise. Market swings are a regular occurrence, and the only certain thing is continued uncertainty. Take a long term view and invest accordingly.