Good morning, and welcome to our rolling coverage of the world economy, the financial markets, the eurozone and business.
Stock markets had a mixed session yesterday, and reversing earlier declines, European shares closed slightly higher while Wall Street ended in the red, with the Nasdaq down 2% after earlier gains. Asian markets rose mostly, with Japan’s Nikkei up 1.1% and Hong Hong’s Hang Seng flat.
Europe is set for a lower open today, ahead of the European vaccines summit, where EU leaders will decide whether to ban vaccine exports.
Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK, says:
Tensions between the EU and UK still remain fairly elevated, despite efforts to cool the narrative, while the recent comments from Thierry Breton, the EU’s internal market commissioner, accusing the UK of vaccine nationalism still suggest the potential for a misstep, as feelings continue to run high, particularly on the EU side, where the sense of grievance remains especially elevated.
There is by no means unanimity amongst EU member states about the stance being taken by the EU Commission with the likes of Ireland expressing concern about the damage such actions might do to the EU’s reputation, and that’s even before the damage it might do to the EU’s own attempts to kick start its own faltering vaccination program, at a time when infection rates are rising again sharply.
Sentiment in Europe continues to remain fragile after German chancellor Angela Merkel was forced into a sharp U-turn over her decision to announce a full 5 day lockdown over the Easter period, as the German governments response to their rising crisis shows further signs of coming apart at the seams
Oil prices are tumbling again after sharp rises yesterday, as worries over demand outweighed supply concerns following the blockage in the Suez Canal caused by a large container ship running aground. Brent crude is down 1.2% at $63.61 a barrel while US crude has slid 1.4% to $60.34 a barrel.
A small bulldozer was despatched to dislodge the ship.
A new £50 note featuring Alan Turing, the scientist best known for his codebreaking work during the second world war, has been unveiled by the Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey. It will go into circulation on 23 June, the date of his birth.
Consumer confidence improved in Germany in early March, when the country’s hard lockdown was eased and infection rates were falling, according to a survey by GfK. Its reading rose to -6.2 for April from -12.1 in March. However, the recent extension of lockdown until 18 April, and rising infections, are expected to dent confidence again.
Rolf Bürkl, GfK consumer expert, says:
The hard lockdown will severely damage consumer confidence and the current improvement will remain a flash in the pan. A sustained recovery in consumer confidence will continue to be a long time coming — which means difficult times ahead for retailers and manufacturers.
- 7.45am France business confidence for March
- 8am GMT: European Central Bank General council meeting
- 8am GMT: EU European Council meeting
- 9am GMT: Bank for International Settlements innovation summit: speakers include ECB president Christine Lagarde, UN special envoy for climate action Mark Carney and BIS innovation Hub head Benoît Coeuré
- 11am GMT: France Unemployment benefit claims for February
- 11am GMT: UK CBI retail sales survey for March
- 12.30pm GMT: US GDP final for fourth quarter (forecast: 4.1%)
- 12.30pm GMT: US Initial Jobless claims (forecast: 730,000)