Stocks rise | public borrowing up | B&Q sales dip
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4.30pm: Stock market higher
Banks led a rebound on the stock market amid reassurances for the the sector, with London’s blue chip FTSE 100 index ending the session 132.37 points, or 1.8%, higher at 7,536.22.
“While the problems at SVB and Credit Suisse had been dealt with, markets had remained edgy. But today’s comments about supporting the banking sector have provided the solid foundation for more gains in risk assets,” commented IG’s Chris Beauchamp.
Investors are now back to worrying about interest rates as the US Federal Open Market Committee begins its two day policy-setting meeting today and will announce its decision on Wednesday at 6pm GMT. The Bank of England will follow with its own decision at noon on Thursday.
US stocks were also higher, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average trading 0.6% up, the S&P 500 gaining 0.7% and the Nasdaq Composite adding 0.9% to 11,780.
Tokyo was closed on Tuesday for a public holiday. Early today the Shanghai Composite was 0.6% higher today while the Hang Seng index in Hong Kong was up 0.9%.
7am: Borrowing rises
The Treasury borrowed a higher than expected £16.7 billion in February, a record for that month as the government spent heavily on helping families with the cost of energy bills.
Office for National Statistics data shows Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s decision to cap typical household energy bills at £2,500 pushed up government borrowing by nearly £10bn compared with the same month last year.
The overall borrowing number is larger than analysts expected and marks a reversal from January’s surprise budget surplus.
However, the Office for Budget Responsibility thinks Mr Hunt is meeting his key fiscal target – to get debt as a share of the economy falling in five years – by a margin of around £6bn, the lowest level of any Chancellor since 2010.
Home improvement has taken a dip as the cost of living takes it toll on the DIY market.
Kingfisher said its B&Q division posted total sales fell 8.2% (LFL -8.8%) to £3.8 billion against very strong prior year comparatives, especially in H1. Total sales at Screwfix increased by 1.6%, though like for like sales fell 3.4% to £2.3bn.
Group sales were down 0.7% in constant currency, reflecting strong prior year comparatives linked to high demand for home improvement products.
7am: Scottish Mortgage
Fiona McBain has resigned as chairwoman of Edinburgh-based Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust as the board is reshuffled in the wake of a dispute with a director who has now left.
SpaceandPeople, the Glasgow-based retail promotions firm, said trading during the second half of 2022 was strong, with total unaudited revenue for FY22 of about £5.5m, in line with market expectations.
Trading momentum has continued in early 2023 in both the UK and Germany despite rail strikes and the board said it looks forward to continued increases in revenue and profitability for the year.
The group expects to announce its FY22 results during the week commencing 1 May.