Friday, 15th April: Positive data from China is as good a way to start your Friday than any other. Q1 GDP was released overnight with investors receiving no unpleasant surprises: growth was reported at +6.7% for the quarter, down from +6.8% but in line with market expectations. Other positive data was the industrial production which came above expectations of +6.8% year-on-year vs +5.8% expected. Retail sales also beat expectations with a print of +10.5% vs +10.4% expected.
Over the weekend major oil producers (OPEC and non-OPEC) will meet in Doha, Qatar, to discuss measures to limit production in a bid to support prices. Saudi Arabia is the main player in the field and the one to ultimately make the decisions whether to freeze output or not. Brent oil traded lower during afternoon trading -3.44% at the time of writing at $42.78 per barrel. It has also been reported that Iran will not send its energy minister to the meeting but the country’s OPEC governor will still attend. Iran has rejected calls for an output freeze and Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil producer, has said it won’t agree to a Doha deal unless Iran signs.
Data in the UK from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) signalled that Britain’s construction weakened slightly in February, decreasing by 0.3% compared with January 2016. Both new work and repair and maintenance reported decreases, except private new housing. Compared with February 2015, construction output returned to growth, increasing 0.3%. Overall UK construction data showed that housebuilding enjoyed growth of 6.8% over the last quarter. Continuing their losses from yesterday, housebuilders suffered in the UK as the potential “Brexit” whilst the hangover from the cautious trading update from Persimmon yesterday continued. Berkeley Group were the biggest fallers in the blue-chip index housebuilders, falling 3.83% at the close.
Today also marks the start of the official UK EU referendum campaign. There are now strict rules on commenting or publishing non-campaign affiliated pieces. Latest YouGov polls shows a 40% stay vote and a 39% leave vote. The campaign has kicked off over claims millions of pounds could be freed up for the NHS if Britain voted to leave in June.
The FTSE 100 ended Friday trading negatively but the index is more than 3% higher month-to-date to stand at 6,343.75 points. European markets ended similarly, closing -0.36% in France and -0.42% in Germany.