XTB UK hires Kathleen Brooks to enhance research amid year of elections and uncertainty

Rick Steves

“Now, more than ever before, investors must stay up to speed with these developments, ensuring they have all the necessary information at their disposal to make the best-informed investment decisions possible.”

XTB has announced the appointment of Kathleen Brooks, a distinguished financial markets research specialist, as Research Director of the retail broker’s UK operation.

With almost 15 years of experience in the retail trading and investment sector, her extensive background includes notable positions at GAIN Capital, City Index, and Forex.com.

Kathleen’s expertise in financial markets research has gained recognition through global media outlets such as the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal, and she is a familiar presence on major news networks like BBC, Sky News, and CNN International.

XTB now focusing on long-term investing

Her appointment comes as XTB expands its product range, focusing on long-term investing with offerings like 0% commission on public stocks and ETFs.

As XTB’s Research Director, Kathleen aims to provide clients with cutting-edge financial market insights and broader economic analysis, enhancing their ability to shape informed investment strategies amid major 2024 events, including elections and global geopolitical uncertainties.

XTB, a global fintech company founded in Poland in 2002, offers access to financial markets through its online platform and mobile app, supporting over 847,000 customers globally

The company is committed to providing a comprehensive online investing platform, offering a wide range of instruments, educational materials, and customer support in multiple languages. XTB is regulated by leading supervisory authorities, including the Financial Conduct Authority and the Polish Financial Supervision Authority.

“XTB UK to deepen our research offering to our client base”

Joshua Raymond, Director of XTB UK, said: “Kathleen is one of the most talented financial markets research specialists in the UK and we are pleased to have her on board as we continue embarking upon our growth strategy in the market. Her skillset will enable XTB UK to deepen our research offering to our client base, ensuring they have access to the best market insights, underlining our commitment to providing clients with the industry’s best educational, technological, and investment tools under our platform.”

Kathleen Brooks, Research Director at XTB UK, said: “I’m excited to have joined one of the world’s biggest fintech investment providers in XTB. 2024 will be full of major events directly affecting the financial markets, including elections in the US and the UK, against the backdrop of global geopolitical events and uncertainties, as the global economy continues the challenging road to
recovery following the Covid pandemic and a high-interest rate environment. Now, more than ever before, investors must stay up to speed with these developments, ensuring they have all the necessary information at their disposal to make the best-informed investment decisions possible.”

Kathleen Brooks highlights more weakness in 2024

In her first email to XTB clients, Kathleen Brooks wrote:

“More weakness emerges in 2024, but will the tide change?

Market moves so far in 2024 suggest that the “everything rally” that we saw in the final weeks of 2023 has been firmly put to bed. The 9 -week winning streak for the S&P 500 came to an end last week, the 10 -year US Treasury yield is back above 4% and the dollar is also higher across the board, but particularly against the yen and the Aussie dollar. In fairness, a 9-week winning streak in the S&P 500 is a rare event historically, so it is no wonder that it came to an end. US stock market futures are also suggesting a lower open later today, and weakness in Asian stock indices overnight could also make it hard for European stocks to break the mould and move higher.

Chinese share weakness extends.

The news from China overnight has not been conducive to risk sentiment, which remains shaky on the back of the stronger December US payrolls report on Friday. Weakness in Chinese stocks has dragged down Asian indices at the start of the week. The Hang Seng is down by more than 2% on Monday as China’s tech sector comes under pressure. The tech sector is down 8% so far this year, after plunging 3% on Monday, while the Shanghai composite is also lower by more than 1.3%. The driver in Asian stock market weakness is two-fold, firstly concerns about the tech sector, and also concerns about another trade war brewing with the West.

China’s tech sector in focus

China’s tech sector is coming under pressure as a final decision on regulation for the gaming industry is looming, after Beijing announced new rules late last year to reduce spending on online video games. There is hope that these rules will be less severe than originally thought. Even so, investors are nervous as they await the final decision, because of Beijing’s history of interference in China’s tech sector. Once the decision is announced, it is worth watching the Nasdaq Golden Dragon Index, which measures the performance of Chinese companies listed in the US but that do the majority of their business in mainland China. This index is lower by more than 3% so far this year, and its short-term performance will likely be guided by Beijing’s decision on the gaming sector.

China’s payback on Taiwan could hurt BAE Systems, but only temporarily

China has also slapped more sanctions on five US defence firms at the weekend, due to arms deals with Taiwan. This could have an impact on the share price of BAE Systems, the UK defence firm, which had seen its share price defy the recent gloom and rally to a new high at the start of the year. Any pullback in BAE could be temporary, as wars around the globe keep defence firms in focus.

Elsewhere, US stock market futures failed to be buoyed by news that the US Congress had reached a spending deal that makes a government shutdown less likely on January 20th. Annual spending this year in the US will be capped at $1.59 trillion. Although averting a government shutdown is a good thing, the US economy has been buoyed by President Biden’s fiscal largesse, so attempts to curb this could be given the cold shoulder by investors in the short term.

The market is still expecting the Fed to ride to the rescue

Overall, these market moves suggest a whiff of risk aversion is in the air, especially after stronger than expected US Non Farm Payrolls data on Friday. This has caused investors to question the prospect of an early rate cut from the Fed. The CME Fedwatch tool is now predicting a 61% chance of a 25bp rate cut from the Fed in March, down from a 73% chance one week ago. This is a fairly mild scaling back of expectations for an early rate cut, and although US bond yields have moved higher in recent days, the move has not been disorderly, and is more of a slow climb higher. This suggests to us, that the pullback in stocks and risk sentiment could be temporary, and that investors still think that the Fed will ride to the rescue and that the current market sell off will be temporary. Due to this, we believe that Fed speakers will be important to market sentiment in the coming weeks. We will be listening out for the four Fed speakers this week, including the dovish Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic, who is a voting member of the FOMC this year and who is speaking about the outlook for the US economy later this evening.

UK retail updates: how healthy is the UK consumer?

There is a dearth of economic data at the start of this week aside from the Eurozone, where November retail sales and a collection of confidence data for December will be worth a watch. However, the key events come later this week when US CPI is released on Thursday, there are also trading updates from M&S, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Greggs, Persimmon, Taylor Wimpey, and Whitbread all happening later this week. Thus, a quiet Monday could unleash a wave of critical sales and spending data from the UK which will tell us about the health of the UK consumer and could have a large bearing on UK stock markets for the rest of the month.

So far, the news from British retailers has been mixed. There was good news from Next, after it reported a 5.7% increase in full price sales in the 9-weeks to December 30th, this was significantly higher than the 2% guidance it gave earlier in the year. This news was just the tonic for investors, and it caused the Next share price to rocket to a fresh record high at the end of last week, bucking the trend for stock market weakness. Interestingly, it said that both its bricks and mortar and online business had done well, and it boosted its full year profit guidance by £20mn to £905mn for 2023, up 4% on 2022.

This good news was not replicated by JD Sports, which issued a profit warning last week, and saw its share price fall to its lowest level in more than a year, wiping £1.8bn from its share price, as heavy discounting, especially on expensive Nike Tech fleeces, and bad weather hit the sports retailer. “

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