As we receive news that the United Kingdom’s chief medical officers have agreed that the COVID-19 threat level should be lowered one notch to ‘epidemic is in general circulation’ from ‘transmission is high or rising exponentially’, I have provided a round-up below of financial news for you.
London shares rose on Friday as a sharp rebound in retail sales in May bolstered hopes of a swift economic recovery from the pandemic-driven slump, while energy shares tracked a gain as oil prices rose on a pledge by OPEC and allies to meet their supply cut commitments.
The FTSE 100 was up 0.5% and on course to rise for the fourth week in five as optimism continued around the revival in business activity.
Data today showed retail sales volumes surged by a record 12% in May amid an easing in the nationwide shutdown imposed to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. This confirmed that British shoppers bought much more than expected in May as the country gradually relaxed its coronavirus lockdown and online retailers boomed, adding to signs that the economy is moving away from its historic crash in March and April.
But official data also showed public borrowing hit a record high as the government opened the spending taps and public debt passed 100% of economic output.
The Bank of England on Thursday expanded its bond-buying plan, as expected, but slowed the pace of the programme, saying it saw some signs of an economic recovery. A separate survey on Friday showed consumer sentiment recorded its biggest improvement in nearly four years in June. The Bank of England (BoE) Governor Andrew Bailey said that the economy appeared to be shrinking a bit less severely in the first half of 2020 than the BoE had feared. But there was no guarantee of a strong rebound and unemployment would rise.
European shares rose with a focus on EU recovery fund talks which are high on the agenda at the European Council meeting today.
Wall Street was also set to open higher on Friday with the tech-heavy Nasdaq inching closer to a fresh record high on hopes of a bounce back in post-pandemic economic activity, as investors shrugged off rising new COVID-19 cases in several U.S. states.
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