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Financial Focus

Thirteen months after Greece was given a 110bn bailout that failed to halt the spread of the debt crisis toIreland and Portugal, politicians are at odds over fulfilling a pledge to make creditors pick up some of the cost of a second rescue. The ECB have warned against German proposals that extend maturities on Greek debt for seven years, an outcome rating companies have said would be considered a default. French politicians support the ECB’s view, which looks to rule out any action that constitutes a ‘credit event’ and the Eurozone’s first sovereign default.

GREECE’s ports, banks, hospitals and state-run companies will grind to a halt today as the two biggest labour unions call the third general strike of the year to oppose Prime Minister George Papandreou’s budget cuts and asset sales.

CHINA’s inflation is yet to be contained by four interest-rate increases since September, and bad weather threatens to further drive up food costs. The central bank yesterday increased banks’ reserve requirements to drain cash from the economy after consumer prices rose 5.5% in May, the biggest gain since 2008. Analysts warn that inflation may reach 6% this month.

BRITISH consumer confidence made one of its biggest jumps on record last month, a survey showed yesterday, providing a glimmer of hope that the recovery may get back on track.

MARKETS:

EUROPEAN shares are expected to inch lower in early trade today as investors’ appetite for riskier assets is seen falling after Eurozone ministers failed to finalise a deal on a new bailout for Greece.

US STOCKS posted their biggest gains in nearly two months yesterday as retail sales figures allayed fears over the economy that had driven a six-week slump in the market.

ASIAN stocks largely opened higher on Wednesday helped by the positive data from the world’s two largest economies, but then slipped into negative territory as concerns about the global outlook and the Greek debt crisis lingered.

CURRENCIES:

THE EURO weakened for the first time in three days against the dollar as EU officials struggled to break a deadlock on a second Greek rescue plan. The Dollar Index, which tracks the currency against those of six major trading partners, climbed 0.2%, halting a two-day retreat.

ENERGY:

OIL for July delivery slid 0.5% overnight in New York. Prices rallied 2.1% yesterday, the steepest gain in almost four weeks, after the industry-funded American Petroleum Institute said crude stockpiles fell to the lowest levels in seven weeks.

COMMODITIES:

GOLD may advance again today as concerns over Greek debt and accelerating global inflation boosts demand for precious metals as a protection of wealth. Copper for three-month delivery declined 0.2% on the London Stock Exchange, snapping yesterday’s 2.9% rise. Spot palladium increased 0.5% and platinum climbed 0.3%.

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