THE Scottish American Investment Company declared the economic outlook was “less positive” in the UK than globally, as it reported yesterday it had outperformed its benchmark significantly in 2017.

The Baillie Gifford-run international investment trust, known as Saints, reported a total return on net asset value of 18.8 per cent for the year to December 31. Saints, which recorded Coca-Cola and Johnson & Johnson as its biggest two holdings at December 31 with each accounting for 2.1 per cent of its £581 million of total assets, noted this was ahead of the 13.8 per cent return for the global equity market last year.

Touching on the UK and US political environments, and mulling the global equity outlook, Saints chairman Peter Moon said: “Last year I suggested that the longer-term implications of both Brexit and President [Donald] Trump’s victory would take a while to emerge and that inflation was likely to pick up in the UK during 2017. Not particularly heroic predictions but as it happens correct thus far.

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“The likelihood of continued economic growth around the world seems strong, although the outlook for the UK economy is less positive.”

He added: “Concerns relating to valuations and rising interest rates…make share price progress less than certain, as has been demonstrated recently.”

Saints has raised its full-year dividend to 11.1p-a-share, with a final payout of 2.825p-a-share. The full-year dividend is up by 2.5 per cent on 2016.

Mr Moon said: “For investors based in the UK, the continued uncertainties around Brexit have also been prominent, although less so in the context of global markets. It is important to stress the international nature of Saints’ equity portfolio, both in terms of listing but also economic focus.”