Investment market update
UK stocks are expected to open slightly higher this morning after a strong performance in the US was tempered by more falls in Asia.
Asian stocks were mixed following rallies across several markets earlier in the week and despite gains on Wall Street. After a positive start, Japan’s Nikkei 225 was down 1.4% at close.
US stocks rose, with the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index posting the best two-day gain in more than five months, despite weakness in oil prices as beaten down banks, technology and retailer shares led an advance. Amazon.com Inc. and Home Depot Inc. advanced 2.6%.
UK stocks were boosted by rises in mining shares, where the FTSE 100 closed up 0.7%. Anglo American closed 1.2% higher.
UK inflation edged up to a 12 month high in January, as a fall in petrol prices eased. Inflation, as measured by the Consumer Prices Index, rose by 0.3%. It was helped by smaller falls in food and fuel prices than a year ago.
Oil prices fell on Tuesday despite Saudi Arabia and Russia agreeing to freeze oil output at January levels if other producers follow suit. The announcement came after ministers from the two nations met in Doha along with their counterparts from Venezuela and Qatar. Brent crude, which had risen more than 5% earlier, finished down 3.2% at $32.33 a barrel, while US crude was down 2% at $29.14.
House prices in the UK rose by 6.7% in 2015, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) – a considerable slowdown on the previous year. In 2014 prices rose by 9.8%, according to ONS figures. Prices increased fastest in England, at 7.3%, and slowest in Scotland, where they fell 0.2% during 2015.
The newest US Federal Reserve member has called for banks to be broken up, and says post-financial crisis safety measures do not go far enough. Neel Kashkari, president of the Minneapolis Fed, said banks should be separated into ‘smaller, less connected, less important entities’. The former Goldman Sachs executive urged Congress to go further than the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010.