Investment market update: December 2023

Posted on

Many markets rallied during December based on the expectation that interest rates will start to fall in 2024. Read on to discover what else may have affected your investment portfolio in the final month of 2023.

On 27 December, the MSCI World Stock Index, which comprises stock from nearly 3,000 companies to track global equity-market performance, was up 4.5% when compared to the start of the month. It was driven by expectations that interest rates will start to fall in early 2024.

The price of gold has also been affected by hopes that interest rates have peaked. In December, the price of gold reached a record high of $2,111.30 (£1,650.08) an ounce.

So, what else affected markets as 2023 drew to a close?


Official figures from the UK paint a gloomy picture for the economy.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the economy unexpectedly shrank by 0.3% in October as both households and businesses faced pressure amid the cost of living crisis.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said it was “inevitable” that GDP would be subdued while interest rates are high to bring down inflation. He added that announcements made in the Autumn Statement in November mean the economy is now “well-placed to start growing again”.

However, revised figures for the third quarter of 2023 provided a further blow. Previously, the ONS said the UK posted no growth between July and September 2023, but an update reveals the economy shrank by 0.1%. Despite this, Hunt said the medium-term outlook is “far more optimistic” than GDP data suggests.

There was some positive news when it came to inflation. In the 12 months to November 2023, inflation was 3.9%, down from 4.6% in October.

Yet, the Bank of England’s (BoE) Monetary Policy Committee voted to hold interest rates at 5.25% rather than cut them. BoE governor Andrew Bailey said he was willing to do “what it takes” to bring inflation down to 2%.

While interest rates haven’t fallen yet, there are signs they could in the coming months.

The yield, or interest rate, on 2-, 10-, and 30-year UK bonds fell mid-month. Yields often fall when bond prices rise, which indicates that markets expect the BoE to start cutting borrowing costs in 2024.

Falling interest rates could provide some much-needed relief for both businesses and households that have been affected by the rising cost of borrowing. The government has also been affected.

According to the Treasury, public sector borrowing was higher than expected in November at £14.3 billion and the interest payable on central government debt hit £7.7 billion. While slightly lower than October’s figure of £8.1 billion, it’s the highest since records began in 1997 for a November.

Data indicated that businesses continue to face headwinds. The CBI reported that retail sales fell at a fast pace in the year to December, which is expected to continue into January, as consumers watched their spending.

Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) figures also found both the construction and manufacturing sectors are contracting. Dr John Glen, chief economist at the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply said the UK continued along a “fragile path” following news that manufacturing export orders fell for the 22nd consecutive month.

The FTSE 100 started the month with a 0.9% rise to 7520 points on 1 December. Mining stocks were leading risers, and homebuilders also benefited from a boost on the news that house prices could start rising again in 2024.

However, there’s no clear consensus about property prices. Indeed, Halifax predicts property prices could fall by up to 4% next year.


Data indicates that many European countries are in a similar position to the UK.

In the 12 months to November 2023, inflation across the eurozone fell to 2.4% – in the 12 months to November 2022, it was 10.1%.

However, the European Central Bank (ECB) opted to hold interest rates. The ECB’s Governing Council said: “While inflation has dropped in recent months, it is likely to pick up again temporarily in the near term.”

Nonetheless, anticipation of an interest rate cut in early 2024 led to stock markets in France and Germany rallying. France’s CAC-40 climbed as much as 0.4% to set a new record on 12 December, while Germany’s Dax also reached a new high.

PMI data for the eurozone show business activity fell sharply in December. Output fell at the fastest pace in 11 years if the early 2020 pandemic months are excluded.

As Europe’s largest economy, Germany is often used as an indicator for the area. The Ifo Institute measure of German business morale worsened in December – companies were less happy about current economic conditions and pessimistic about the future. Energy-intensive industries were found to be particularly gloomy.


US inflation fell to 3.1% in the 12 months to November 2023. Treasury secretary Janet Yellen said inflation is coming down “meaningfully” and she believes the current path will lead to inflation gradually declining to the Federal Reserve’s 2% target.

Employment figures suggest businesses are optimistic about the future. Federal Reserve data shows 199,000 jobs were added in November to indicate a strong labour market.

However, other figures paint a different picture. According to the Census Bureau, US factory orders fell by 3.6% month-on-month in October. In addition, a PMI reading suggests that the manufacturing sector is contracting.


Credit ratings agency Moody’s cut China’s credit outlook from “stable” to “negative”. The agency said it was due to concerns about rising debt and economic growth slowing. While the country’s credit rating remained the same at A1, the fifth highest rating, lowering the outlook suggests Moody’s could cut it in the future.

While many other developed countries are battling inflation, China has the opposite problem. Its inflation index fell 0.5% in November, showing prices are declining. Deflation could indicate that demand is low and may negatively affect businesses.

Please note: This blog is for general information only and does not constitute advice. The information is aimed at retail clients only.

The value of your investment can go down as well as up and you may not get back the full amount you invested. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance.


We aim to keep our clients up to date on interesting and relevant financial news.

You can sign-up to receive our monthly newsletter by email, even if you’re not yet a client. Sign-up using the form below.

Client testimonials

I have always found Black Swan to be caring and understanding of my quirky lifestyle. I always feel they try to get me the best returns while respecting my current needs.

Sally Muir

A client since 2011

We would be very happy to recommend the support and service we receive.

Valerie Locks

A client since 2010

I have always been completely useless regarding finance - thankfully our financial adviser is not! I've retired with far more than I ever expected and investments continue to grow safely. So - thank you!

Bernadette Jane Warner

A client since 2000

Very happy with the professional service I have received and feel a lot happier now with my finances put in order.

Martin Field

A client since 2011

Julie Cooper was recommended to me by a work colleague. She has been very helpful, professional and has explained everything well. I would definitely recommend her services to anyone else who are interested in a financial review.

Steven Rooke

A client since 2018

…Service has been first class.

Hugh Fells

A client since 2012

My face to face meetings with Rob Young and Jessica Lyons have always been very open and understandable. My questions have been answered clearly and I have left feeling that my financial matters are in good hands.

Sandra Jack

A client since 2000

[A] safe pair of hands in a complex financial world.

Gary Middlehurst

A client since 2003

A reliable company with good communication skills and good knowledge of the financial markets.

Alan Evetts

A client since 2014

Maureen Pembridge is a long-time trusted advisor to our family. The market might fluctuate but her attention to detail is consistent.

Linda Burnard

A client since 2000

I am pleased to recommend Julie as a trustworthy financial advisor. She explains financial jargon in plain language, and always listens carefully to my particular financial needs and has helped me make the best of my savings.

Carolann Samuels

A client since 2010

I have always been satisfied with the way that Black Swan has handled my account. And I have always found the staff very helpful whenever I need to call the office.

Robert Anthony Matthews

A client since 2012

An excellent personal service from a person I know and trust.

Michael Dalton

A client since 2010

I am getting a very good services from Black Swan, they have got my investments sorted out which was in a bit of a mess.

Roy Jakens

A client since 2012

A good, efficient team providing clear ideas to shape a winning strategy.

Adrian Michael Levenstein

A client since 2011

Black Swan is a company to be trusted, with friendly staff and professional advisors.

David Brian Jennings

A client since 2017

I have been with Black Swan for many years. I have never wished to change anything. They give a good straight forward service.

Martin Barrett Brooks

A client since 2010

Andy Peters has been invaluable in firstly combining several pension pots and then giving excellent investment advice. It has given us a great deal of comfort to know that our financial affairs are in such good hands.

James Guillum Scott

A client since 2014

I find my financial advisor easy to talk to and feel that she understands my lifestyle. She is always available for help when I need her and explains in words that I can understand.

Margaret Ena Glasgow

A client since 2000

Andy is a first rate Director, excellent communicator and leader.

Ross Perry

A client since

Black Swan Financial Planning and Andrew in particular, are very clever at working out how risk averse we are, and coming up with solutions that we feel comfortable with. We are happy in the knowledge that we can continue to enjoy a comfortable retirement. Andrew Peters is a very, very friendly person who is great to chat to and easy to deal with. He explains things very clearly in layman’s terms, and if we still don’t understand, he explains it until we do!

Alan & Jane Dyer

Clients since 2012

We have always found Rob [Young] to be very approachable and knowledgeable. We have every confidence in the advice given and feel comfortable with the decisions we’ve made. There are certain opportunities that we wouldn’t have known about if Rob hadn’t brought them to light, which makes the advice good value for money as far as we’re concerned.

Peter & Pauline O’Halloran

Clients since 2013

Rob [Young] is extremely knowledgeable. I knew nothing about the different types of trusts which will not only secure my income in retirement, but also leave a legacy for my children. I’m glad that I sought his advice when I did.

Sarah Wilson

A client since 2015

I am extremely happy with the service afforded to me by the company and my adviser Julie Cooper.

Geoff Coxell

A client since 2010

My wife and myself have been dealing with Black Swan for a number of years. We have met with different representatives from the company over the years and have found all very helpful in their own way. We met with James [Anderson] a few years ago and found him very helpful and knowledgeable. He keeps in contact with us on a regular basis. We find the Company information very helpful and we feel very secure with our finances.

Andrew Kirchen

A client since 2015

I have always found my adviser to be easy to contact, very professional in his approach, yet friendly and understanding. I have a sense of an experienced company behind him, really on the ball financially and with good standards.

B McBean

A client since 2011

Partner with the most reliable and experienced team of advisers

Enter your details & we'll be in touch to discuss your needs.
Alternatively, contact us directly and speak to a member of the team.

    Subscribe to our newsletter