Archive forMarch, 2014

Rise in UK house prices in March

As per data from Hometrack, a property research firm, the average asking price for a house in the UK advanced 0.6% m-o-m in March after rising 0.7% in February, registering the 14th consecutive month of increase. House prices in England and Wales grew 0.6%, while in London, prices were up 0.7%, the firm reported. On y-o-y basis, house price growth accelerated to 5.7% in March from 5.4% in February.

UK consumer confidence reaches record high in March

Today, data from research firm GfK showed that the UK consumer sentiment index moved up to -5 in March from -7 in February, reaching the highest level since August 2007. The actual reading was better than the market forecast of -6.

Unemployment number in France worsens in February

Yesterday, France’s labour ministry reported that the number of registered jobseekers in the country increased 0.9% to a record high of 3.3 million in February. Including part-time workers, the jobless number rose to around 4.9 million. On y-o-y basis, the figure was up 4.7% in February. Separately, the statistical office indicated that the ILO unemployment rate in metropolitan France and overseas departments inched down to 10.2% in Q4 2013 from 10.3% in the previous quarter, but maintained similar pace from Q4 2012.

UK house prices reached its highest since August 2008

Yesterday, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed the average asking price for a house in the UK grew 6.8% y-o-y to £254,000 in January, following a 5.5% increase in December. This upbeat performance was driven by strong rallies in London and the South East, growing at an annual rate of 13.2% and 7.1%, respectively.

Debate over Scotland’s independence still unresolved

Yesterday, a monthly survey by the research group Taylor Nelson Sofres (TNS) revealed that the proportion of respondents who wished to remain in the UK was unchanged at 42%. The share of Scots favouring independence edged down one point to 28%. Around 30% of the surveyed people stated that they were undecided.

Slowdown in Chinese factory activity in March

Yesterday, HSBC and Markit Economics revealed the flash manufacturing PMI for China dropped to an eight-month low of 48.1, on a seasonally adjusted basis, in March from 48.5 in February vis-à-vis the forecast of 48.7. The output index declined to an 18-month low of 47.3 in March from 48.8 in February. New orders, output/input prices and purchases volumes also fell further during the month.

Gauge of UK house prices reaches a record high in March

Today, data from Knight Frank and Markit Economics revealed the seasonally adjusted gauge of house price sentiment jumped to a record high of 61.5 in March from 60.7 in February. Moreover, the measure of expectations of the house prices for the coming year stood at 74.3 in March, down from 74.9 in February.

Zahid Mahmood discusses global markets on CNBC Arabia’s “Bursat”, 12th March 2014

Zahid Mahmood, Investment Adviser at Beaufort Securities, discusses global markets on CNBC Arabia’s “Bursat” – 12/03/2014

The Budget changes for pensions and ISAs – 20/03/14

At a stroke, the latest Budget has ushered in an era of dramatically new flexibility for savers and investors. Subject to how these will be specifically implemented in the months ahead, some broad inferences can be drawn…

Chancellor Osborne upgrades UK growth predictions

Yesterday, in the annual budget speech, Chancellor George Osborne raised the UK growth projection to 2.7% for the current year, up from the earlier estimated 2.4%. The growth estimate for 2015 was increased to 2.3% from 2.2%, whereas those for 2016 and 2017 were unchanged at 2.6%. In addition, the Chancellor announced several supportive measures for savers and pensioners in his statement.

Japan extends streak of trade deficits

As per data released by the Ministry of Finance, Japan recorded a trade deficit of ¥800bn (US$7.9bn) in February, the 20th straight deficit, vis-a-vis ¥2.79trn in January. Though the reading was much below the record trade deficit in the previous month, it could not meet the market expectations of ¥600bn. This was ascribed to slower exports and increased imports.

China records lower home price growth in February

Data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) revealed that the average new home prices advanced in 57 of the 70 major Chinese cities in February, down from 62 cities in January. On monthly basis, prices in Beijing and Shanghai were up 0.2% and 0.4%, respectively, in February. Compared to last year, prices rose in 69 of the 70 cities.

Manufacturers optimistic for 2014, says EEF

UK manufacturers are enjoying a strong start to the year and are confident about the outlook, according to their industry body, the EEF. Its survey of 322 companies, conducted during January and February, showed stronger output and orders than in the final quarter of last year. Measures of recruitment and investment intentions were at the highest level recorded by the survey. Export orders were up strongly from the previous quarter. EEF chief economist Lee Hopley said: “This is the most positive set of indicators we have seen for some time, demonstrating that we’ve not just turned the corner, we’re actively heading down the right road.” Ms Hopley added: “Manufacturers are clearly feeling more confident as their order books fill up and exports are strong. “It is now vital that government does all that it can to underpin support for companies, giving manufacturers the confidence to fulfil their investment and recruitment plans.”

Japan’s industrial output growth revised downwards

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry today reported that Japan’s industrial production grew a seasonally adjusted 3.8% m-o-m in January, coming in below the government’s previous forecast of 4%. On y-o-y basis, the output grew 3.8% on a non-adjusted basis in January, lower than the flash estimate of 4%.

UK house price balance hits lowest level since August 2013

Today, survey results from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) revealed that the increase in UK house prices slowed in February. The house price balance declined to +45 from a revised reading of +52 in January. However, the gauge of expectations of future prices and sales volumes increased further during the month.

EU moves closer to deal on bank crisis fund

Yesterday, the Governor of Bank of England, Mark Carney, stated that the spare capacity in the UK was likely to be a little over 1.5% of GDP. This increased estimate comes on account of the latest jobs report. In the inflation report for February, the spare capacity projection was 1–1.5%. Meanwhile, the bank is currently investigating the possible manipulation in forex markets and plans to appoint a new official to ensure better internal oversight, going forward.

EU moves closer to deal on bank crisis fund

Yesterday, the European Union (EU) ministers asserted making further progress on the deal detailing the treatment of failed banks in the Eurozone, as sought by the European Central Bank (ECB). Last week, ECB President Mario Draghi had given time until the European parliamentary elections, due in May, for reaching a final deal.

UK GDP to touch pre-recession high in Q2 2014

Today, a report from the British Chamber of Commerce (BCC) revealed the UK economy is likely to grow 2.8% in 2014, in excess of the previous forecast of 2.7%, with estimated growth of 0.7% in Q1 2014. In the three months ending July 2014, the UK GDP is expected to reach £392.8bn, the highest level since the GDP of £392.7bn recorded during Q1 2008. Meanwhile, the growth forecast for 2015 has been revised to 2.5% from 2.4% and is maintained at the same level for 2016.

ECB raises growth forecasts

The ECB upgraded its growth projection for the Eurozone, but trimmed the forecast for inflation. The central bank now expects economic growth of 1.2% in 2014 versus 1.1% estimated previously. On the other hand, inflation is now expected to average 1.0% in 2014, lower than the 1.1% forecast made by the central bank at the end of last year. The ECB’s decision to not announce any further stimulus measures disappointed investors.

Emerging markets record sluggish growth in February

Data from Markit and HSBC indicated that the composite emerging markets index dropped to 51.1 in February from 51.4 in January, falling for the third consecutive month but staying in the positive territory (>50). Factory activity slowed down while growth in services gathered pace during the month

UK shop prices post record drop in February

Data from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) today showed that the UK shop prices fell 1.4% y-o-y in February, after declining 1% in January, vis-à-vis the market forecast of 1.1%. This is the sharpest decline since the series started in 2006 and the 10th consecutive month of fall. On m-o-m basis, prices were down 0.6%.

Low inflation is a serious risk to the Eurozone

Yesterday, the European Central Bank (ECB) Chief Mario Draghi warned that the continuing low inflation level could be dangerous for the Eurozone economy. Even as he attributed the current disinflationary worries to the lower prices of energy and food worldwide, he warned about the likely impact of the high level of unemployment on the demand ‘for some time to come’. Mr Draghi said that the Ukraine crisis would have a limited impact on the region. However, he added that any development related to the issue would be closely watched by the ECB.

UK house prices up 0.7% m-o-m in February

Property tracking website Hometrack reported the average asking price for a house in the UK rose 0.7% m-o-m in February, after increasing 0.3% the preceding month. On y-o-y basis, prices advanced 5.4% in February following a 4.8% gain in January.