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Market and Economic Update – March 2016

February was another volatile month for investors as global equity indices initially experienced further falls, but subsequently found support to finish only marginally below their starting point. In particular the global banking sector suffered sharp declines on concerns that flatter yield curves and negative interest rates might hit profitability. Japanese equities also underperformed on the back of a stronger yen.

Gareth Lewis Gareth Lewis
16 March 2016

Over the period, US economic releases generally reinforced fears of a global slowdown. In Europe a continuation of depressed inflationary data and some softer economic reports applied further pressure on the European Central Bank (ECB) to apply more monetary policy stimulus at its March meeting. Meanwhile the latest economic data from Japan showed the economy contracted at an annualised rate of 1.4% in Q4 2015, led by a slump in consumer spending.

The increased volatility of sterling

  • In the UK, Mayor of London Boris Johnson’s decision to break with Conservative Party leadership and lead the Brexit campaign sent sterling to its lowest levels since the global financial crisis
  • How sterling fares in the upcoming months, as campaigning intensifies and the US dollar appears set to lose some support as interest rate expectations are pushed out, will be interesting to see
  • In February’s chart of the month we have highlighted the increased volatility of sterling as the referendum on Britain’s EU membership draws closer.
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