Investment market update
UK stocks are set to open lower this morning following in the footsteps of US equities.
Hong Kong shares fell joining the trend across Asia as trading resumed after the Lunar New Year break. Markets in China remained closed for a longer New Year break. The Nikkei was closed on Thursday for a national holiday.
US stocks opened higher after comments from Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen that the Fed was unlikely to raise rates soon, but lost ground in afternoon trading. Ms Yellen said the economic situation in the US was not as clear as it was in December.
UK stocks gained ground on Wednesday, as a sharp rebound in Deutsche Bank shares provided some respite for banking stocks. HSBC was up 1.9%, while Barclays was 1.3% higher.
UK Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne’s self-declared victory over a £130 million tax agreement with Google Inc. is proving more of a thorn in his side as lawmakers prepare to quiz the technology giant over the settlement, denounced by critics as ‘derisory”. Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee will question Google executives and UK tax officials on Thursday about the way the sum was calculated after members of Osborne’s own Conservative Party and the Labour opposition said the payment, agreed by Google parent Alphabet Inc., wasn’t enough.
BP is planning for oil prices to stay low for the first six months of the year and expects surplus production to only start diminishing when storage tanks fill up in the second half. “We are very bearish for the first half of the year,” Chief Executive Officer Robert Dudley said at the IP Week conference in London Wednesday. “In the second half, every tank and swimming pool in the world is going to fill and fundamentals are going to kick in. The market will start balancing in the second half of this year.”