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Investment market update

Early Trading

UK stocks are set to open slightly higher this morning, as traders still look for a clear direction on the next move by the Federal Reserve.

World Markets

UK stocks fell slightly during quiet trading on Monday, led by declines in Anglo American plc, Glencore plc, and Aberdeen Asset Management plc.

US stocks edged higher, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average extending its longest winning streak in five months, while investors assessed a rally that turned equities positive for the year. Commodity producers slipped and banks were little changed after bolstering the rebound from the worst start to a year ever.

Japan drove gains in Asian equities amid optimism that the volatility that marked trading at the start of the year has abated. The prospect of a US interest-rate hike as soon as April supported the dollar, while bonds in the region declined. Tokyo’s index jumped the most in almost three weeks as trade resumed following a holiday, with the yen extending its drop against the US dollar into a third day.

Headlines

The UK needs to take urgent action to address the gap in pay between men and women and change the culture that causes it, according to a panel of lawmakers. Flexible work arrangements should be available in all jobs, the House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee said in a report published Tuesday. It also called for a non-transferable three months of parental leave, paid at 90% of salary, for fathers to encourage them to look after their children and a national program to help women over 40 back to work. “The gender pay gap is holding back women and that isn’t going to change unless the government changes its policies now,” Chairwoman Maria Miller, a former equalities minister in Prime Minister David Cameron’s government, said in an e-mailed statement. “If the government is serious about long-term, sustainable growth, it must invest in tackling the root causes of the gender pay gap.”

UK house prices rose 1.3% in March, pushing the average above £300,000 for the first time, according to Rightmove Plc. Average asking prices increased 7.6% compared with a year earlier, the property-website operator said on Monday. That takes the increase over the past 10 years to 50%, more than twice the pace of earnings growth, according to Rightmove. Gains were spread across the country in March, with asking prices in southwest England, the northeast and the West Midlands increasing by about 2.5% on the month.

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