Next Stop For The FTSE 100 - 5,000 or 7,000?
What a week just gone we've had with the FTSE 100 (INDEXFTSE:UKX) enjoying one of its best few days this year, as miners, oil & gas and airlines took centre stage.
However, it still seems to me that the blue-chip index is stuck in a downtrend and despite the dramatic bounce witnessed last week, I can't help but feel there will be many more bumps along the road as 2016 comes and goes.
A quick glance at the chart clearly shows the index testing new support levels on its way down. At the same time there now seems to be resistance around the 6,000-point mark - also on a downward trajectory.
Looking forward, there are numerous moving parts that could cause the FTSE to sour further as the year progresses - let's take a closer look at some of the headline factors that have the ability to move markets...
The elephant in the room
Though bouncing strongly off of its sub-$30 lows, Brent crude has been one of the main driving factors of weakness for the market. As has been discussed before, the market has heavy weighting to the oil & gas sector, even after the share price collapse, both BP and Royal Dutch Shell are still in the top 10 companies by market cap.
I still believe it to be true that the current oversupply needs to work its way through the market before we will see a return to a more sustainable price. That's a price that encourages companies to continue to drill for oil and ensures that consumers are able to pay a fair price in order to continue to use the commodity economically.
Referendums and elections
As investors have seen in the past, political instability can have a major impact on investor confidence. Let's face it, markets hate uncertainty. Just in case you thought it was safe to go back into the water, it's worth making oneself aware of what I believe to be (at the time of writing at least) two of the main political talking points of 2016.
The first date for your diary this year is 23 June - this is when we, the British people, will vote on whether we wish to stay part of Europe. That may be 121 days away, however the political posturing is already building. As we saw in the general election last year, investors saw several sectors sold-off on the belief that there was going to be another hung parliament. But that sell-off turned out to be an opportunity as it became clear that the Conservatives had clinched a majority. I wouldn't be surprised to see similar reactions as we head to the polls.
Next up, albeit not until November, will be the US Presidential election. With incumbent Barrack Obama standing aside following the conclusion of his second term, the most likely candidates to succeed him at this stage will be either Hillary Clinton for the Democrats, or Donald Trump for the Republicans.
As anyone invested in the pharmaceutical sector can attest, a few words from the US presidential hopeful, pledging to crack down on rising prescription prices and hold drug companies accountable if they raise costs excessively can cause sharp price falls in the businesses operating in the sector.
On the flip side, we could well see a strong finish to the year for shares should Trump enter The Whitehouse, much as we saw in the UK last year.
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Dave Sullivan 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.