- Aberforth Smaller Companies Trust said it posted a net asset value total return of negative 15.4% in calendar 2018, broadly in line with its benchmark.

The Numis Smaller Companies Index posted a return of negative 15.3% over the same time period.

Aberforth Smaller Companies proposed a final dividend of 20.75p per share, bringing total dividends for 2018 to 30.25p, up 5% on-year.

'Around the world, 2018 proved to be a year of negative returns for the vast majority of stockmarket indices,' chairman Paul Trickett said.

'As the year progressed, trade wars, politics and slowing economic activity all weighed heavily on markets.'

'Perhaps unsurprisingly, with Brexit as its companion, small UK quoted companies did not escape.'

Trickett said rising global interest rates could pose more of a threat to future performance than Brexit uncertainty.

'The difficulties in reconciling a narrow referendum outcome, which would seem to be at odds with the majority in the Houses of Parliament, should not be underestimated, although it is perhaps the transition from quantitative easing to quantitative tightening that will have more lasting impact on the investment world,' he said.

On the upside, Trickett said political and economic uncertainty was making small-company shares prices cheaper.

'The coming year will undoubtedly bring an array of surprises,' he said.

'However, after a tough 2018, the board looks forward with a degree of optimism, which is based upon the attractive valuations and the consistency of approach and professionalism of the managers.'

At 1:09pm: [LON:ASL] Aberforth Smaller Companies Trust Plc share price was +1p at 1211p

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