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Investment market update

Early Trading

UK stocks look set to open higher this morning, tracking the US and Asia higher after encouraging reports on the US housing market.

World Markets

Shares across Asia were up as oil prices advanced to their highest levels in more than seven months, while investors appeared to be more upbeat about the prospect of a US interest rate increase after the release of strong economic data.

US stocks rose the most in more than two months, as a big rise in home sales fuelled speculation the economy can withstand higher interest rates amid rising bets the Federal Reserve will tighten policy this summer.

UK stocks rose, with shares in Kingfisher up after encouraging first-quarter sales, while the pound jumped after the latest EU referendum poll. Financial services stocks were the best performers, with Royal Bank of Scotland adding 4.8% and Schroders up 3.8%.

Headlines

Eurozone finance ministers have agreed to extend further bailout loans to Greece as well as debt relief, in what they call a ‘major breakthrough’. After late-night talks in Brussels, the ministers agreed to unlock €10.3bn in new loans. The move came two days after the Greek parliament approved another round of spending cuts and tax increases demanded by international creditors.

A former managing director of Mothercare is leading a bid to acquire BHS, brightening hopes that a buyer could be found for the collapsed high street chain after some other potential buyers withdrew. Greg Tufnell, who worked at the Next fashion chain in the early 1990s and has also been managing director of the Burtons menswear, is in talks to buy the retailer.

Monsanto has rejected a $62bn (£43bn) offer from Bayer that would have created the world’s biggest agricultural supplier. The US company said the offer was ‘financially inadequate’, but left the door open for a potentially higher bid. Hugh Grant, Monsanto chief executive, said the proposal significantly undervalued the company. He also raised concerns about whether a deal would be approved by regulators.

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