On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average ended trading on Thursday 0.1% down for the week so far, with the S&P 500 moving ahead 1.3%. Economic data in the US continues to offer encouragement, with business activity rising to an eight-month high in March – but confidence has fallen as a result of concerns about rising input costs and falling levels of disposable income among consumers.
The UK & Europe
In the UK, the FTSE 100 closed on Thursday 0.8% up for the week, with the index benefiting once more from rising energy and commodity prices. Fuel retailers also welcomed the government’s decision to reduce tax on petrol and diesel in response to soaring forecourt costs.
Official figures showed that inflation in Britain hit 6.2% in February, its highest level in 30 years. Most analysts expect the rate to rise even further in the coming months and a number of retailers have said they have no choice but to raise prices.
In Frankfurt, the DAX index ended Thursday’s session down 1% for the week, as did France’s CAC 40. Firms in the eurozone are concerned that an extension of sanctions on Russian gas and oil could see their energy costs rise sharply. Indeed, business confidence in the single currency area has fallen to its lowest level in 18 months, while the outlook for the manufacturing sector measured by the purchasing managers index (PMI) dipped to its lowest point since the start of 2021.
In Asia, the Hang Seng index in Hong Kong rose 2.5%, extending the rebound which started last week. Shares in ecommerce giant Alibaba soared 11% on Tuesday after the firm announced an expansion of its share buyback programme, while China’s property developers have also shown encouraging signs of recovering lost ground.
In Tokyo, Japan’s Nikkei 225 index of leading shares had gained almost 5% by Thursday’s close, clawing back a large chunk of the losses incurred since the start of 2022. The strengthening dollar provided a major boost to the large number of Japanese companies which derive earnings from international markets.
Hong Kong Hang Seng
Note: all market data contained within the article is sourced from Bloomberg unless stated otherwise, as at 24 March 2022.