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Financial Focus

THE IMF strongly denied suggestions that it is privately pressing troubled Greece to restructure its debt, with a spokeswoman saying that it “supports the Greek government’s position of no debt restructuring and its determination to fully service its debt obligation”. The head of the European Financial Stability Facility, Klaus Regling, agreed that the Greeks can sustain their debt.

GADDAFI’S troops continued bombarding Libya’s third city Misurata yesterday. Communications and electricity to the city have been cut off for days, and it is reported that 160 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in a week. Rebels continued to fight with regime troops in the Eastern oil-town of Brega, and fears of a stalemate forcing a long-term east-west split are growing.

MARKETS:

US EMPLOYMENT grew solidly for a second month in March lifting the FTSE to a six-week high, and pushing Wall Street close to its 1,333-resistance point on Friday. Analysts do not expect more significant movement in the US markets until earnings data confirm that companies continue to grow in strength.

ASIAN shares rose to their highest levels in nearly three years overnight after strong US jobs growth spurred optimism about the global economy. The Nikkei made a session high of 9,809 before falling back, and has recovered more than two-thirds of the ground lost during the step fall in the aftermath of the recent earthquake.

EUROPEAN shares are set to dip today as traders consolidate strong gains from Friday, and with heavyweight commodity stocks expected to come under pressure from weaker copper prices.

CURRENCIES:

THE EURO rose to an 11-month high against the yen as speculation grows of a Eurozone interest rate of 25 basis points when the ECB meets on Thursday. The currency appreciated 3.5% through March, the most since the final three months of 2008. Bloomberg reported that this has been the euro’s best first-quarter performance since the region’s single currency began trading in 1999.

ENERGY:

OIL climbed for a third day in New York, trading at a 30-month high, as signs of economic recovery in the US boosted speculation that fuel demand will increase in the world’s largest crude user. Oil in New York has climbed by 28% since anti-government protests began on February 15th in Libya, Africa’s third largest oil producer.

COMMODITIES:

COPPER is predicted to continue its decline into this quarter as stockpiles expand, Chinese imports plunge and Japan reels from its nuclear disaster. Analysts predict that the metal may drop as low as $8,500 per ton, which is a fall of around 9% from today, but will then rebound to $11,000 by the end of the year – a potential rise of 18% from this point.

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