Overnight, the numbers from Down Under showed that Consumer Confidence has improved in New Zealand, with the Index growing to 123.9; this came as Australia’s Unemployment rate fell to 5.7%.
This morning, the latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) UK Retail Sales figures for April rose to 4.5% Year on Year compared with April 2016 and to 2% Month on Month (double the expectation of 1%). The ONS said sales rose thanks to Easter falling later this year. The Year on Year jump was far higher than expected and was helped by warmer weather, according to retailers. Today’s figures contrast with the ONS data for March, which saw sales suffering their biggest fall in seven years. Sterling has responded well to the news of the April rebound.
Meanwhile, over in the United States, yesterday saw Senator Al Green call for Donald Trump to be impeached over claims of Russian involvement in his election campaign. A former FBI chief, Robert Mueller, has been named as special counsel to oversee an inquiry into the matter.
World equity markets and the US Dollar have weakened significantly on the news, with Gold, the Swiss Franc and Japanese Yen all gaining. It’s worth noting that the FTSE is somewhat insulated from the falls, due to the index’s broad international exposure.
Markets are so uneasy with the development as it's getting more doubtful that President Trump will be able to deliver his economic agenda. The US Dollar started 2017 strongly, with much priced in, since last year's election on expectations of the promised corporate tax cuts from 35% to 15% and increased infrastructure spending. These policies now look likely to be deferred at best, while uncertainties have increased.
In Europe, the last 24 hours have seen wide ranging strikes in Greece and this afternoon will see the scheduled release of the minutes from the European Central Bank’s (ECB) April meeting.
Thought for the day:
The person who says something is impossible should not interrupt the person who is doing it.
And one more from Robin Williams: “Spring is nature’s way of saying...’Lets Party’.”