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Bargain hunters benefit from Osborne's tax credits U-turn


Shoppers enjoyed discounts on Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Shoppers enjoyed discounts on Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Shoppers enjoyed discounts on Black Friday and Cyber Monday

I have a sense that my attitude to Black Friday and Cyber Monday makes me something of an archetypal grumpy old man. Nothing could have tempted me onto the high street or online, given a nagging feeling that we were all being subjected to extreme marketing hype and tempted into intensely conspicuous consumption.

However, for those who benefited from George Osborne's Autumn Statement U-turn last week, there may have been the opportunity to get some real bargains, safe in the knowledge that next year's income would not now be significantly reduced by the tax credit changes originally proposed.

As for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, we will not see much short-term impact on the share prices of retailers until we get a much clearer picture of the effect on their sales, and most importantly, on their profitability.

It is certainly a good time for euro exporters of consumer goods to retailers in the US, with the euro trading well below $1.10, and with the lowest monthly close in quite some time. Some are even talking about parity based on the contrast between the relative positions of the US and Europe in the economic cycle.

Indeed, speculation is mounting that the ECB is preparing to cut rates yet again in order to strengthen the emerging recovery. In contrast, the signals from the Fed continue to point to an imminent increase in rates, as long as there are no economic shocks from China and relative calm is maintained in emerging markets.

Last week the 'steady as it goes' performance of the US equity market was in marked contrast to falls in a very volatile Chinese stock market, which was down by over 5% on Friday as the market responded to poor industrial profit figures and a number of regulatory concerns. European markets held on to the positive territory of the last three months performance, reflecting the improving economic and monetary policy environment.

A significant number of local investors own residential buy-to-let property. As a consequence of the Chancellor's announcements 'amateur' investors, in other words those with less than 15 buy-to-let properties, will have to pay an additional 3% stamp duty on properties that they buy after April next year. The measure will also apply to those who buy a second home.

In addition to raising tax revenues of over £600m, this measure is expected to dampen the impact of the buy-to-let and second home market. Buy-to-let investors have already had to come to terms with the previous announcement of a reduction in interest rate tax relief. There will continue to be attractive buy-to-let opportunities, but there is no doubt that the calculations on return and value will now have to be recalibrated.