Moving on from the dismal attempt at a pun in the title, news was heavily dominated from the mood and speculation surrounding the impending result of the UK general election today. Unsurprisingly given the implications for issues like the Brexit, investors must now sit and wait until the early hours of Friday before the result will become clear. The last poll hinted the Conservatives would win, by the skin of their teeth, a majority but we’ve been here before. The last 12 months have certainly scared most from making sure political calls and so we must now wait and see if Corbyn can cause an upset. The fact that he’s in a position to do so is an achievement in itself, rewind back to when Theresa May announced the general election he had as much chance as Leicester City did at the start of the 15/16… Theresa May had a right chuckle in parliament, this was meant to be a routine victory. Don’t worry Theresa, your name is already on the trophy…. Then she disgruntles voters by avoiding any kind of debate. Maybe it was complacency but her PR campaign has been as noticeable as Watford in the Premier League this year. Tragically two major terror attacks then put the spotlight on national security, which is fine unless you were the Home Secretary before Prime Minister, the Home Secretary that reduced police numbers. Oh, wait… So at least it makes for the next 24 hours to be interesting.
Japanese growth has been revised down for the three months of the year. GDP expanded 0.3% in Q1 compared to the preliminary reading of 0.5%. Annualised growth was cut from 2.2% to 1%. The weaker than expected data was put down to a decline in oil inventories and private consumption yet there was an unexpected increase to business investment which rose o.6% against an initial estimate of 0.2%. Next week’s central bank meeting is expected to keep policy unchanged. Overall the Japanese economy seems in relative good health and the recovery is certainly still on track as retail sales rise, household spending is increasing and industrial production has recovered.
Just after lunch one of today’s main events, the European Central Bank meeting unfolded and the main headline was the increased forecasts for economic growth in the eurozone. Rates were held as expected and Draghi has hinted there is no need to cut rates further with the risk of deflation off the table. They’re now expecting growth across the eurozone of 1.9% this year against earlier forecasts of 1.8%. On the news the pound rose slightly against the euro and currently sits at €1.1534.
The other developing story is James Comey’s testimony at Capitol Hill, in progress as we write. So far he’s stated that Trump administration’s comments following his dismissal were lies. #fakenews. He also has no doubt that Russia did interfere with the 2016 US election. Probably more #fakenews. He’s also mentioned how he took notes as he feared Trump may lie and that one time he got out of taking his wife for dinner because the President invited him. To which it was unanimously accepted this was probably the best excuse ever for getting out of dinner with your Mrs. So far the 140 character crusader is yet to comment, but watch this space.
At the close the FTSE 100 slid down 0.38% to 7449.98 with little impact from the ECB meet and of course we’ll have the impact of the election tomorrow. Ashtead shares topped the main index after rising 3% following the release of their latest results.