8 March 2017

Too much information!

Markets have been understandably quiet recently. With the Chancellor of the Exchequer about to announce his Spring Budget as I put pen to paper (and on the day of our Investment Conference, too!), traders are clearly sitting on their hands.

These days many of the measures to be introduced by the Chancellor are leaked in advance – or given to journalists in “briefings”. But there could be some surprises in store, though giveaways look likely to be thin on the ground, given Mr Hammond’s recent comments.

The Budget will doubtless gain the lion’s share of media attention, but it is important to know that there will be much else exciting attention over the next week or so. Plenty of news of economic significance is due which should more than make up for a slow period on the company results front. Here at home we have industrial and manufacturing production figures on Friday – useful in terms of assessing our own economic performance and gauging the effect of weaker sterling. There will also be house price data from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors – generally viewed as more reliable than mortgage lenders surveys.

It is the events taking place overseas that should really be grabbing our attention, though. The US publishes lots of relevant information over coming days - all pertinent to their economic position. Included in these are details of unemployment and average earnings, while the Federal Reserve Bank’s Open Markets C ommittee will meet soon to discuss interest rates. A rise is very much on the cards, with more to follow. With equity markets there close to all time highs, the impact of any decision will be closely watched.

The European Central Bank will also be meeting. Given the way in which inflation is creeping up in the single currency zone – the Consumer Price Index in Germany now stands at +2.2% - perhaps we will see some retrenchment in the easy money policy adopted hitherto. And just after the Fed’s important meeting, finance ministers and central bankers of the G20 – representing the largest economies in the world - will be meeting at Baden-Baden. There will be much to take in over the next week or two.

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