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Investment market update

Early Trading

UK stocks are expected to open higher this morning following oil prices rising above $35 per barrel and Asian markets moving back in to positive territory.

World Markets

Asian stocks rallied, on track for their second straight weekly gain, as China’s central bank said it sees room for monetary easing.

US stocks rose, pushing the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index to levels last seen at the start of the year, amid speculation anxiety in global financial markets is abating.

UK stocks advanced 2.5%, led by gains for financial firms after reporting earnings. Lloyds Banking Group Plc rose 14%, the most since 2010, after raising its dividend and giving a special payment. RSA Insurance Group Plc jumped 9.8% after posting a gain in operating profit.

Headlines

China’s central bank tweaked the description of its monetary policy stance to reflect a recent increase in liquidity injections and moves to guide money market rates lower, with Governor Zhou Xiaochuan highlighting scope for further actions if needed.

Germany’s finance minister opposed any fiscal stimulus plan from the Group of 20, whose top economic officials gather today, and instead sought to focus on structural reforms to strengthen national growth rates. Wolfgang Schaeuble, speaking hours before meeting with his counterparts from the G-20 developed and emerging markets, also said that the space for monetary policy has been exhausted. He warned that using debt to fund growth just leads to ‘zombifying’ economies.

British Airways owner IAG SA said profit increased 68% in 2015 as it tapped increasing trans-Atlantic traffic, expanded discount flights and bought Irish carrier Aer Lingus Group Plc. Operating profit increased to €2.34 billion from €1.39 billion a year earlier, with earnings forecast to grow by a similar degree this year.

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