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Investment market update

Early Trading

UK stocks are expected to open marginally lower this morning, despite the steadying of the oil price and a strong showing from US and Asian markets overnight.

World Markets

Asian stocks gained overnight, with the Japanese market rebounding from the biggest drop in two weeks as investors speculated the Bank of Japan may boost stimulus in the wake of a deadly earthquake.

US stocks advanced, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average closing above the 18,000 level for the first time since July as investors shook off oil’s losses on failed output talks, preferring to look toward a bevy of corporate earnings this week. Hasbro Inc. surged 5.8% to a record, buoying sentiment after its results beat expectations thanks in part to demand for Walt Disney Co.’s “Star Wars”-licensed toys. Disney added 2.9%.

UK stocks recovered from early losses, which had originally been triggered by a fall in oil companies. The price of Brent crude originally fell by 7% in reaction to the news from Qatar that oil producers failed to agree an output freeze. Despite equities falling more than 1% at the start of the session, the FTSE 100 closed 0.15% higher by the close. Overall, BP fell 0.04% and Royal Dutch Shell fell 0.7%.

Headlines

UK house prices climbed to a record in April as demand from landlords in the previous month created knock-on effects through the property market, according to Rightmove Plc. Average asking prices rose 1.3% from March to £307,033, the property website operator said in a report published Monday. It left values 7.3% higher than a year earlier.

As Europe holds its breath over whether or not the UK will stay in the union, companies are holding on to their cash. Coming off of an eight-year record for mergers and acquisitions, the UK just had its worst quarter for deals since 2010, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. First-quarter M&A spending is down 39% from a year ago.

The Royal Bank of Scotland Plc plans to triple the volume of loans it provides for UK renewable energy projects by 2017, tapping into growing business interest for green power. RBS plans to lend £3 billion for UK renewable energy projects next year, up from about £1 billion last year, the London-based bank said Monday in an e-mailed statement. The bank was the UK’s largest lender to sustainable energy projects, according to data provider InfraDeals.

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