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Risk appetite returns

Published: 16 Jul at 9 AM Tags: Pound Sterling, Euro Exchange Rate, Dollar Exchange Rate, Forex, Swiss Franc Exchange Rate, Euro Crisis, UK, Economy, Inflation, France,

The trading week started with a return to ‘risk appetite’ after data showed that Chinese gross domestic product (GDP) growth fell from 7.7% to 7.5% in the second quarter in line with expectations.

This drove the world stock markets into further positive territory with the FTSE100 index in London finishing at a 7 week high and the Dow in New York close to all time record highs.

In the UK, the pound received support from the Ernst & Young Item Club which reported an improving outlook for the UK economy. The forecaster reported that the UK economy will expand by 1.1% this year, compared to an April estimate of just 0.6%.

Meanwhile, property website Rightmove said that home sellers predicted values would now climb by up to 4% this year instead of the 2% previously forecast. Rightmove also reported that the price of UK property rose for the seventh consecutive month in July showing an increase of 0.3% on the previous month.

And finally on UK news, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) reported that the recent warmer weather in June encouraged shoppers onto the UK High street as consumers took advantage of store promotions. Footfall in June was 0.1% higher than a year ago and up from a 0.7% decline in May.

BRC's Director General Helen Dickinson said "The UK High Street was busier in June... The relatively strong UK wide figures are reflected in modest increases in footfall in out-of-town retail, although shopping centres did not perform quite so well. The improvement in the weather may well have contributed to this. Our recent retail sales figures showed a strong performance from fashion and footwear and it is likely that shoppers took advantage of the start of the sunshine in June to visit their local high street and buy items for their summer wardrobes."

Elsewhere, the US dollar recovered some of the ground lost last week ahead of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s testimony to Congress later this week.

The dollar was hit last week by dovish comments from Bernanke when the minutes of the last Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting was published. Bernanke said that the FOMC was in no rush to raise interest rates in the US, even when US unemployment falls to its key target of 6.5%.

Yesterday saw the publication of a mixed bag of US economic data with US retail sales showing weaker than expected growth of 0.4% in June while a separate Empire State manufacturing survey advanced for the second month running, rising to 9.5 in July from 7.8 the previous month.

The euro emerged largely unscathed from the day’s trading despite the loss by its second biggest economy, France of its last major triple-A credit rating; ongoing political concerns about Portugal and data showing another decline in German exports.

In Portugal, President Anibal Cavaco Silva set the three main political parties a deadline of 21 July to agree on the “national salvation pact”. Cavaco Silva has the power to dissolve the Portuguese Parliament called on the political leaders to agree to the terms of the €78 billion bail-out and follow through on measures after a series of politicians resigned over disagreement with the way austerity was being handled.

Today sees the publication of inflation data from both the UK and the US.
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