Last week was generally negative for equity markets. Most regions sold-off around -1%, with the FTSE All Share Index in the UK down -1.5% and the S&P 500 in the US down -1.6%.  There were some exceptions to this, with MSCI Japan +3.6% and MSCI China +1.1%.  Our overweight exposure to Japanese equities will have been a positive contributor to performance.

Last week marked the 20th anniversary of 9/11. A terrible event and a scar on human history, one which has left a deep national trauma on the US. The last twenty years has seen the US spend trillions of dollars trying to rid the world of terrorism.

At the same time the war on COVID-19 continues around the world.  As the delta variant wreaks havoc in the US, President Joe Biden has gone on the offensive against anyone who is not willing to be vaccinated and federal employees could be fired if they do not take the vaccine.  Israel, which has been one of the leading nations with vaccine rollout,  is now one of the world’s biggest pandemic hotspots.  There are stark warnings coming out of Africa that the proliferation of COVID-19 variants could lead to vaccine-evading mutations.  In the UK, preparations are starting for a program of “mix and match” of coronavirus vaccines as booster shots, to fight against such possible mutations.

In big tech land – Apple has been fighting its own wars in the courts against Epic Games. Apple has been ordered by a federal judge to substantially alter its business model, forcing them to allow its developers to “steer” customers away from Apple’s payment processing service.  The ruling, one of the first major legal actions taken against a tech giant in a new era of antitrust scrutiny, is sure to echo loudly in Washington where a legislative effort to rein in the power of Big Tech is underway.  This fight could have many ramifications and is one to watch.  Apple’s stock price fell -3.5% on the announcement of the ruling.

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