The year is shaping up to be a very challenging one for stock markets, as trade wars and calls for the ending of the current economic growth cycle continue to weigh heavily on equity market performance. Our overall outlook that the cycle has a little longer to go has not fundamentally changed, but the sounds of caution are growing a little louder. Whilst we do not believe at all that recession is just around the corner – even though global politicians are attempting every day to drive us there – we have noted a modest deterioration in the global economic picture generally. So whilst it is premature to call the beginnings of a bear market, we are going to continue to see an increase in market volatility as geopolitics continue to provide the drivers of current sentiment. For now, the global economic picture remains supportive of risk assets such as stocks and shares, but like our own weather after a glorious summer, the clouds on the horizon are begging to show. You may not need an umbrella for a good while yet, but you better get it out of the cupboard just in case.