Investment market update
UK stocks are expected to open lower this morning, as investors eye several economic data releases today from the UK, US and Germany.
Stock markets around the world continued to fall to levels last seen three years ago. Back then regions such as the Eurozone had suffered a recession and company profits were shrinking. Now there are expectations the European Central Bank will provide more stimulus, economic data in the Eurozone is improving from 1.5% in 2015 to 1.6% in 2016 while analysts expect corporate earnings to rise 4.6% this year.
Investors continued to react to weak oil prices, with Brent crude hovering around $33 a barrel, concerns over slowing economic growth, particularly in China, the world’s second largest economy, and the potential for a further interest rate rise in the US.
India’s economy grew at an average rate of 7.5% in 2015, faster than the 6.9% growth in China, official figures show. In recent history it has been unusual, but not unprecedented, for India to grow faster than China. According to the IMF it happened in 1981,1989,1990 and 1999, and 2015 was the first instance in this millennium.
Npower has become the fourth major UK energy supplier to announce a reduction in its gas price – with a 5.2% cut taking effect on 28 March. The date of the change is likely to bring renewed criticism that prices are cut only towards the end of the coldest months. The move will mean a £32 average annual cut to customers on a standard domestic gas tariff. Npower said the fall would benefit about 1.2 million customers.
The number of train tickets sold last year rose 3.8%, according to the Rail Delivery Group (RDG). The organisation that represents train operators and Network Rail said there were 1.7 billion journeys made in the UK between 4 January 2015 and 9 January 2016. That was 62 million more than in the previous year.