Leading international equity markets ended March on a generally firm note, some having faltered mid-month as the banking crisis in Cyprus put Europe’s bailout mechanisms under pressure and raised questions about the safety of bank deposits elsewhere. In the UK, further tax cuts for business promised in the Budget were overshadowed by the Chancellor’s weaker economic growth and deficit reduction forecasts, though his ‘Help to Buy’ proposals boosted house builders’ shares.
Having exceeded 6,500, the FTSE 100 fell back, later recovering some ground to end the month 1.4% higher at 6,411.7. Meanwhile, The FTSE 250 put on 1.6% to close at 13,923.04 ahead of the Easter break. The AIM market, granted future freedom from stamp duty in the Budget, nevertheless lost 1.3%, ending on 731.11.
Buoyed by encouraging labour market prospects and other economic data, the US markets shrugged off Eurozone concerns and moved ahead purposefully, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average gaining another 3.7% to reach a record 14,578.54 and the Nasdaq adding 3.4%, at 3,267.52.
European bourses were naturally nervous about the problems in Cyprus, but stabilised towards the month-end, leaving the Eurostoxx 50 index a marginal 0.3% higher. In Tokyo, where the Bank of Japan has a new governor, the Nikkei index maintained the progress of recent months to finish another 7.25% higher, at 12,397.91. The Cyprus turmoil inevitably rubbed off on euro exchange rates. During March, the EU single currency weakened more than 2% against sterling and the US dollar, with closing rates of €1.19 and $1.28, respectively. Sterling firmed slightly against the greenback, to $1.52.
There was little net movement in oil prices over the month, with Brent crude closing just under two cents lower at $110.02. An otherwise lacklustre gold market was given afillip by the blow to confidence in bank deposits and the metal closed just over 1% higher at $1,599.30 a troy ounce.
Issued by: Enable Independent Financial Life Planners
25c North Street, Bishops Stortford, Herts CM23 2LD
Telephone: 01279 755950 – Fax: 01279 657339
Enable Independent Financial Life Planners is a trading style of Enable Independent Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority.
It is important always to seek independent financial advice before making any decision regarding your finances. If you would like any assistance, please contact us.
NOTHING CONTAINED IN THE ARTICLES SHOULD BE CONSIDERED AS GIVING INDIVIDUAL FINANCIAL ADVICE.