What’s Driving The FTSE 100 Lower?

stock exchange

Life as an investor is inevitably full of ups and downs. Right now is one of those ‘downs’ and evidence of this can be seen in the performance of the FTSE 100 during recent weeks.

Indeed, the UK’s major index has fallen by a whopping 6.8% over the last month alone. This puts it at the same level as it was in June 2013 and means that, since the start of 2011, it has risen by a measly 7.5%.

Of course, things could get worse before they get better. With this in mind, here are the major reasons for the FTSE 100’s recent woes and why further falls cannot be discounted.

Eurozone Weakness

The major reason for recent falls in the FTSE 100 is uncertainty surrounding the Eurozone economy. Unlike their US and UK counterparts, the ECB has done comparatively little to strengthen the European banking sector or the European economy. As a result, the threat of deflation remains very real and the Eurozone could easily slip back into a moderate recession if further stimulus is not introduced.

The knock-on effects of a Eurozone recession would be impossible for the rest of the world to avoid. While a number of companies have attempted to reduce their exposure to the weakest growth region in the world in recent years, the Eurozone is still a major chunk of most companies’ top and bottom lines, so a recession is highly likely to affect earnings figures moving forward. Downgrades to earnings forecasts are likely to mean downgrades to share prices in the short term, too.

US Stimulus

The FTSE 100 is also being hurt by uncertainty surrounding the end of the Federal Reserve’s monthly asset repurchase programme. Many investors believe that this has been the major cause of the recent all-time highs that have been recorded on the other side of the pond and, with the programme due to end imminently, the future price level of the S&P 500 (and, by default, the FTSE 100) looks very uncertain.

Russian Sanctions

Although not as dominant of news headlines recently, Russian sanctions remain a real threat to the FTSE 100. The main reason for this is that trade between Europe and Russia is likely to be hurt over the medium term, which could have a negative impact on both economies. With the Eurozone’s recovery being highly precarious, as mentioned, Russian sanctions could prove to be enough to push it into recession.

Looking Ahead

While the short term could prove to be a highly challenging period for the FTSE 100, it could also be a perfect time to buy shares in high-quality companies when they trade at even better prices.

With this in mind, we've written a free and without obligation guide to 5 Shares That Could Beat The FTSE 100.

The 5 companies in question offer a potent mix of dependable dividends, exciting growth prospects and super-low valuations. As a result, they could boost your portfolio returns and make 2014 and beyond an even more prosperous period for your investments.

Click here to access your free and without obligation copy of the guide. It's well worth a read.  

Peter Stephens has no position in any shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has no position in any of the shares mentioned. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.