Investment market update
UK stocks are expected to open higher this morning following gains on Wall Street and in Asia overnight.
Asian stocks rose, with the regional index on course for its biggest three week advance since 2009, ahead of a meeting of Chinese leaders and a monthly US jobs report.
US stocks closed higher, led by gains in energy shares, before today’s payrolls report that may provide a clearer picture on the economy’s health and path for interest rates.
UK stocks reversed earlier gains by closing down 0.3%. Shares in ITV closed down 3.5% despite a 6% rise in annual pre-tax profits. However miners were the major gainers boosted by new economic stimulus measures in China. Anglo American added 6.7%.
Brazil’s GDP fared worse than almost any other major economy in 2015, contracting by 3.8%, according to the national statistics agency IBGE. Economic growth in the world’s seventh-largest economy has fallen sharply in recent months. This was due partly to low commodity prices and sluggish global growth.
The UK’s dominant services sector weakened in February, registering its slowest rate of growth for nearly three years, a survey has indicated. The latest Markit/CIPS services Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) fell to 52.7 last month, down from January’s reading of 55.6. Any figure above 50 means expansion, but the rise in service sector activity was the weakest since March 2013.
UK house prices continue to rise at a ‘robust pace’, the Halifax has said – a position echoed by the latest figures from a rival lender. The Halifax, part of Lloyds Banking Group, said property values were up 9.7% in February compared with a year ago, but down slightly on January.