UK deficit 'more than predicted'
Pound Sterling - UK Markets
UK car sales fell by 30.5% in March, compared with the same month last year, the latest industry figures have shown. The number of new UK registrations in March was 313,912, down from 451,642 the year before, said the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. SMMT chief executive Paul Everitt says the government needs to do more to boost confidence.
The pound has hit a two-month high against the US dollar in morning trading as investors reacted to further gains made by UK equities. A rise of over half a cent has taken the pound to interbank levels not seen since February - between 1.4601 and 1.4987.
US Dollar - US Markets
According to figures from the Department of Labor, the number of people employed in the US fell by 663,000 in March. The jobless rate rose to 8.5% from February's figure of 8.1%, meaning it is still at its highest since 1983. It means that since the recession began in December 2007, 5.1 million jobs have been lost, 3.3 million of them in the past five months.
Euro - European Markets
Data from European Union statistics agency Eurostat has shown that eurozone industrial producer prices posted their biggest drop in annual terms for almost 10 years in February.
The report will heap pressure on the European Central Bank to lower interest rates further in the months ahead, with factory gate prices dropping 0.5% on the month, leaving them 1.8% weaker than in February last year. The drop is the seventh consecutive monthly decline in prices.
The Bank of Spain has predicted that the country's rate of unemployment will reach 17.1% in 2009 and 19.4% in 2010. Spain currently has the highest unemployment rate in the European Union, with a rate of 15.5% in February, nearly double the EU average.
Other Currencies - Highlights
The Czech koruna has risen to a 2-week high against the US dollar after a report showed that the Czech trade surplus increased more than expected in February.
A report by the Czech Statistical Office said the trade surplus stood at CZK8.69 billion in February, up from CZK3.46 billion in the previous month. Economists expected the surplus to increase to CZK5 billion. A year ago, in February, the surplus was CZK13.03 billion. In February, exports dropped 22.2% year-on-year to CZK169.4 billion, while imports fell 21.5% to CZK160.7 billion. At the time of writing, interbank levels for the koruna-dollar pair are around 19.495 and 19.535.