House price fall gathers pace
Pound Sterling - UK Markets
Yesterday's confirmation that Barclays is in talks over the sale of its exchange-traded fund business iShares helped the pound make some gains yesterday. However, both the Euro and the US Dollar have now clawed back their early losses with Sterling now approaching six-week lows against the Euro as a five-day run of stock market gains faltered.
Elsewhere, figures show that online shopping is bucking the downward trend on the UK High Street, as latest figures show the 'e-tail' sector made a 13% annual sales increase in February. Despite the annual increase, online shopping figures fell in February by 11% from the month before, online retail research group IMRG Capgemini said.
US Dollar - US Markets
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and other policy makers may have to ramp up their purchases of mortgage securities and other assets after the economy and job market deteriorated further since they last met.
Analysts say that the Federal Open Market Committee need to redouble their efforts after the central bank's balance sheet shrank 17 percent from a $2.3trn peak in December. This retreat came even as Bernanke acknowledged the chance that the unemployment rate will exceed 10 percent for the first time in 25 years.
The US Dollar has remained under pressure following gloomy economic data including the Empire State manufacturing survey, which fell 4 points in March to -38.2, a new record low. Meanwhile, the housing market index from the National Association of Home Builders (ranked on a scale of 1-100) was unchanged at 9, from January's all-time low of 8.
Euro - European Markets
Appetite for riskier trades boosted demand for the Euro, with the US Dollar falling to a five-week low against the single currency. Hopes that money from the International Monetary Fund will be used to help ailing Central and Eastern European economies also increased demand for the Euro, analysts claimed.
The Centre for European Economic Research German economic sentiment survey will be released today and is expected to fall to -90 from -86.2 in February. Meanwhile, economic sentiment is seen at -8, down from -5.8 in the prior month.
Meanwhile, Spain's National Statistics Institute have released a report that shows Spanish home sales fell 39% on the year in January, pointing to a deepening correction for Spain's once-flourishing home-building industry. Sales had fallen by 26% in December and 36% in November.
Other Currencies - Highlights
Following the release of minutes of the recently concluded Reserve Bank of Australia meeting the Australian Dollar has fallen to a four-day low against the Euro.
The minutes have raised hopes that the RBA will cut interest rates as early as April to help the economy combat recession - helping to lift market sentiment despite lingering doubts about the global economic outlook.