Investment market update
UK stocks are expected to open flat this morning as investors are expected to book some profits after three successive week of gains.
Most Asian stocks rose, boosted by commodity and energy-related stocks. Investor sentiment was also up after a positive US jobs report on Friday. By the end of trading, Sydney’s benchmark ASX 200 had climbed to 1.0%. In China, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was little changed.
Stocks on Wall Street rose to their highest levels since early January on Friday, following better than expected US jobs figures. Although the key non-farm payrolls grew, average hourly wages fell by 0.1% after a strong 0.5% increase in January. The surprise fall seems to indicate that US inflation remains muted, according to analysts. Policymakers at the US central bank, the Federal Reserve, will be keeping a close eye on inflation to inform their decision as to when to raise interest rates.
Mining companies helped pull UK stocks higher as the recent rally in commodity prices continued. Mining firms dominated the leaders’ board, with Glencore rising 11.9%, Anglo American up 11.1% and BHP Billiton 9.1% higher. The mining sector has been helped by a rally in the price of metals, with the copper price on track for its biggest weekly rise in six months.
China’s chief economic planner said the world’s second biggest economy will ‘absolutely not experience a hard landing’ despite growth forecast cuts. Predictions of an abrupt economic slowdown are ‘destined to come to nothing’, said Xu Shaoshi, head of China’s state planning agency. China’s National People’s Congress on Saturday lowered the economic growth target for 2016 to a range of 6.5%-7%. Last year, China’s goal was ‘about 7%’, but the economy actually grew by 6.9%.
The director general of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), John Longworth, has resigned after being suspended for saying the UK’s long-term prospects could be ‘brighter’ outside the European Union. The BCC said Mr Longworth had accepted his support for leaving the EU was ‘likely to create confusion’. He revealed his support for ‘Brexit’ at the BCC annual conference on Thursday. Announcing Mr Longworth’s departure, the BCC said he had breached the group’s official position of neutrality on the referendum.