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The FTSE 100 has added over 500 points in the last two weeks, and as we move into Spring, it appears determined to put the dark days behind it. As impressive as this rally has been, almost all of the major European equity markets still remain well below levels they started the year at.
Although Chinese manufacturing data missed the mark, European countries have broadly hit the mark, while the eurozone figure has even outperformed expectations. There is always one exception to the rule and the soft UK figures have painted it as the odd one out.
Barclays is the latest of the blue chip financials to report, and although it has posted full-year pre-tax profits of £5.4 billion this is still 2% lower than expectations. This has triggered fresh asset stripping plans, with the disposal of its African subsidiary the latest target of cost-cutting.
It’s nice to be wanted, and the London Stock Exchange now finds itself with two admirers following the news that the Intercontinental Exchange is looking to put together a counter bid to the one already on the table from Deutsche Boerse. As both admirers chase the price higher, shareholders have sat back and watched as the LSE share price has jumped another 7.45% in morning trading. Direct Line might be fearful of Brexit headwinds but it has still managed to post full year pretax profits 5.6% above expectations, ensuring the markets have added another 2.86% to the share price.
Gold continues to flirt with the idea of being outwardly bullish as it has crept back up to $1240, keeping the pressure on the shorts and encouraging the bulls.
Although GBP/USD has had a quiet 24-hours, it just means we are that much closer to some politician voicing their views on the Brexit and sending the FX markets into a fresh round of speculation.