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Investment market update

Early Trading

UK stocks have opened lower, with upbeat leads from the US and Asia being offset by the fall in oil prices ahead of a meeting of major producers in Doha this weekend.

World Markets

Global markets were up yesterday and overnight, encouraged by better economic news out of China. In the UK, mining and banking stocks led the way, with Anglo American up 9.7% and BHP Billiton rising 8.9%. Among the banks Standard Chartered and HSBC gained 10.7% and 6.6% respectively. Both of them have strong presences in China and the region.

Headlines

A US appeals court has cleared the path for Argentina to begin making payments on $9bn (£6.33bn) in bonds. The decision paves the way for the country to re-enter bond markets after more than a decade. A panel of judges rejected claims made from holdout creditors who had not accepted any of the offers made by Argentina to pay its debt. The country will now be allowed to proceed to pay those claims that have been settled. On Thursday it is due to pay off four of its biggest creditors.

Unilever reported first-quarter sales growth in line with estimates as gains in its laundry detergent and personal-care units offset falling prices in Europe. Underlying sales increased 4.7% compared with the 4.6% median estimate of 20 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Growth slowed from 4.9% in the fourth quarter and the company flagged 2016 would be a tougher year.

This year’s surge in buy-to-let lending is expected to subside following tax changes, the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) has said. Figures for the month of February showed that landlords borrowed £3.7bn which is a 61% rise on the same month in 2015. But since 1 April anyone buying a second home has had to pay a 3% surcharge on Stamp Duty. As a result many landlords have rushed through property purchases to beat the deadline.

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