The news that Aviva – the giant insurance company that was once known as Norwich Union – is to mount a bid for rival Friends Life gave further cheer to a market that has now regained most of the ground lost earlier in the autumn. China cutting interest rates also helped, driving Asian markets higher, while the boss of the European Central Bank also made encouraging noises over the action he is likely to take to stimulate Europe’s flagging economies.
All this positive news has been sufficient to push the FTSE 100 Share Index back over 6700, recording an even better recent performance than Wall Street. Of course, not all the news has been good. It seems Royal Bank of Scotland’s woes are never ending, with severe criticism being heaped upon its senior executives from the chair of the important Treasury Select Committee. And all this so soon after its most recent fine – for technology troubles.
Even oil managed a modest rise in price recently. It is diffic ult to be precise as to why this crucial commodity should have fallen so much in price. Vast reserves are being unlocked in the United States from their shale deposits and, of course, the slowdown in China’s growth will impact on demand. But the world economy is still expanding, albeit modestly. Anyway, cheaper oil does bring benefits through lower fuel costs.
We will be seeing a lot of important economic data as November draws to a close. And, of course, in America we also have Thanksgiving Day on the last Thursday of the month. Markets in the US will be closed and many extend the holiday into the weekend by taking Friday off. Little wonder this day is now known as “Black Friday”. For Americans, Christmas shopping starts here.