Investment market update
UK stocks are expected to open lower this morning, tracking losses on Asian markets as doubts mounted about Beijing’s ability to manage the world’s second-biggest economy.
Global markets fell as the slowdown in the Chinese economy pushed oil prices to their lowest levels since 2004, with declining energy companies outweighing better than expected US jobs data. Royal Dutch Shell Plc fell 5.9% after saying it’s on track to complete its takeover of BG Group Plc. Tullow Oil Plc and BP Plc followed crude prices lower. Tesco rallied 5.5% after Barclays Plc raised its rating on the grocer to overweight, citing attractive valuation and “helpful catalysts.”
Prime Minister David Cameron said he is aiming to reach a deal on the UK’s membership in the European Union next month. “I’m hopeful of a deal in February and if we do that we could go on and hold the referendum. The prize is closer than it was and I’m going to work around the clock to get that done.”
Interest rates for millions of UK savers have sunk to a new low, according to the Bank of England. The average rate on Individual Savings Accounts (ISA’s) fell to 0.85% in December, down from 0.99% in November. On instant access accounts, the interest rate fell to 0.48%, from 0.54% a month earlier.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), is ‘not going soft on the banks’, its interim chief executive Tracey McDermott has said. In December the FCA said it had shelved plans for an inquiry into the culture, pay and behaviour of staff in banking. Critics say the Treasury successfully put pressure on the FCA to be more ‘light touch’ with financial firms. But Ms McDermott insisted the FCA was taking action, including a £72m fine imposed on Barclays in December.