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Financial Focus

The first quarter of this year could be as good as it gets for British economic growth until at least 2013 according to a Reuters poll. For a third month running, analysts trimmed back their full year growth forecast for 2011 to 1.5% from 1.6%. After largely signaling a strong start to the year, British economic indicators from recent weeks have looked confusing and even contradictory.

SINGAPORE’S third monetary policy tightening in a year may prompt Asian central banks to allow further interest-rate and currency gains to prevent surging prices from hurting their economies. The islands dollar, the nation’s main tool to manage inflation, will be allowed to rise further, the Monetary Authority of Singapore said yesterday.

EUROPEAN debt markets were reeling in yesterdays afternoon trade as a number of press reports suggested that Greece and possibly Ireland may default on some of their debt repayments in the months ahead. That added to a flurry of bad news weighing on global stock markets and helped push the UK’s FTSE 100 back below the psychologically important level of 6,000.

MARKETS:

US markets closed flat on Thursday after the disappointment due to weak jobs data were offset by some positive first-quarter earnings reports.

ASIAN stocks fell on Friday as China’s faster-than-expected economic growth increased the prospect of further monetary tightening from Beijing.

BRITAIN’S FTSE 100 is seen edging up on Friday, reversing some of the previous session’s losses with commodity-related shares likely to rise.

CURRENCIES:

STERLING rose against the euro on Thursday as investors dumped the single currency on speculation Greece may have to restructure its debts.

THE DOLLAR fell to a 16 month low on Thursday. Analysts said that it was suffering from the perception that the Federal Reserve was likely to stick to its ultra loose monetary policy stance as other central banks raised rates.

ENERGY:

OIL traded near the highest in three days in New York as investors weighed accelerating inflation in China against economic expansion in the world’s second biggest crude user. Crude for May delivery was at $108.34 a barrel, up 23 cents.

COMMODITIES:

GOLD gained a record and silver climbed to the highest level in 31 years as inflation in China accelerated more than forecast. Gold for June delivery in New York climbed to an all time high of $1,480.50.

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