Have markets finally stabilised after Brexit?

The UK’s vote on its future in the European Union was only six weeks ago, but already it seems as if the markets have forgotten about this landmark event.

Indeed, the FTSE 100, FTSE 250 and S&P 500 over in the US have all recovered from the losses they experienced in the immediate aftermath of the vote. The S&P 500 is currently trading just below a record high.

So, it looks as if equity markets around the world have shrugged off Brexit. Indeed, sterling is one of the only assets that’s still trading at post-Brexit levels.

Does this mean it’s time to start investing again? Well, if you dumped all of your shares before the referendum on 23 June and haven’t yet re-entered the market, it might be wise to take an extremely cautious approach when reinvesting. 

While equity markets have recovered Brexit losses, global macroeconomic headwinds are building, and the full fallout from the UK’s decision to part ways with the EU is yet to be reflected in the economic data. Discussions between parties haven’t even begun yet, and we’re at the beginning of a long and uncertain negotiation process.

Macro headwinds outside the UK are also building. China’s financial position and economic growth continue to deteriorate. Furthermore, it’s widely believed that the global economy is close to a recession with trade growth and economic growth on track to fall below the critical level of 2.5%. Elevated corporate and sovereign debt levels, as well as increasing political uncertainty, are another two big concerns for investors at present.

Seek safety 

Simply put, while it may look as if the markets have recovered from the Brexit shock, there are a number of other growing risks out there and the full fallout from Brexit isn’t yet known.

Nonetheless, these risks shouldn’t impact the investment decisions of long-term investors. 

The global economy has always had to grapple with a crisis in one form or another, yet equities have always managed to produce a steady return for investors when held over an extended period. It’s unlikely to be any different this time around. 

Invest for the long-term

Investing with a long-term outlook in defensive companies that have a history of producing stellar returns for shareholders is a strategy that has stood the test of time and will most likely continue to perform, no matter what happens around the rest of the world. 

Companies like Unilever and Royal Dutch Shell, which have decades of experience under their belts and have diversified operations in defensive sectors, are the best investments to ride out any macro uncertainty. Dividend champions such as GlaxoSmithKline and Imperial Brands are another two top picks that will most likely continue to produce returns while other companies struggle.

The bottom line 

So overall, despite the recent equity rally it may not be time to jump too enthusiastically back into the market just yet as economic headwinds grow. However, by investing in a basket of high-quality defensive companies and income champions, you should be able to protect your portfolio from any macro turbulence and benefit from any additional equity gains.

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Rupert Hargreaves owns shares of GlaxoSmithKlin, Royal Dutch Shell B and Imperial Brands. The Motley Fool UK owns shares of and has recommended GlaxoSmithKline and Unilever. The Motley Fool UK has recommended Royal Dutch Shell B. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.