Improvement in household spending power The latest figures released from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveal that the typical level of spending power, or disposable income, for the average UK household in 2014-15 was £25,700. This figure is £1,500 higher than the low point seen in 2012-13. This marks a milestone from the hit taken by disposable income levels seen during the financial crisis. This good news was compounded for pensioners who have been in receipt of the state pension, as the triple lock promise from the Government, whereby the state pension is guaranteed to rise each April by the highest of inflation, average earnings, or 2.5%, has seen the average pensioners household income rise by 7.7% or £1,500 between 2007-8 (the start of the financial crisis) and 2014-15. However, by comparison, those people in employment have not been quite as lucky as they have seen their household disposable income rise by only 3.1%, or £900, over the same period. Commenting on these statistics, the Chief Economist of the think tank, Resolution Foundation, was reported to have said: “Strong jobs growth and ultra-low inflation have finally pushed living standards back above where they were before the financial crisis. But the downturn has been felt very differently between generations, and across the UK. “This generational divide opened up well before the financial crisis landed. As a result, typical working age families are no better off today than they were a decade ago, while typical pensioner incomes are 15% higher. “This divide is unlikely to widen in the coming years, but nor do we see any sign of narrowing. By 2020, pensioner incomes are set to be over a third higher than they were at the turn of the century – more than double the increase experienced by working-age households.”

Markets – February (Data supplied by The Outsourced Marketing Department) Equity markets had a torrid February, with most global commodity prices continuing to fall, a failure to address the glut in oil production and the UK’s decision to officially call the referendum on its membership of the European Union, all conspiring to unsettle the markets. Here in the UK, the FTSE100 had at one point (Feb 11th) fallen by 9% to 5,537.0, only to recover and actually finish February higher at 6,097.10, to show a meagre rise of 0.22%. The wider F TSE250 followed suit, registering a modest rise of 0.7% to end February at 16,603.1. However, the junior AIM market failed to recover its earlier losses closing at 692.90, for an equally modest decline of 0.12%. Across the pond the Dow Jones index closely followed the global trend, suffering intra- month losses, but regaining late ground to finish at 16,516.5, a small rise of 0.3%. The NASDAQ, heavily influenced by technology stocks, fared worse, losing 56 points to 4,557.95, so ending 1.21% lower. Mainland Europe suffered, as economic woes continued with the Eurozone flirting with renewed recession, as inflation there turned negative. The Eurostoxx50 lost just short of 100 points to 2,945.75 a fall of 3.26%. In Japan, the Nikkei255 index saw the worst falls, losing 8.51% to 16,026.76, as the continuing ‘Abenomics’ of fiscal stimulus, failed to rejuvenate the stagnant domestic economy.
As a direct result of the impending UK referendum of leaving the EU, Sterling was sold off, falling 2.8% against the US Dollar to $1.39 and saw a larger fall of 3.79% against the Euro to end the month at €1.27. At the same time, 5 the Euro managed to hold its ground against the 4 Greenback remaining at $1.08.

Gold had a good month, as its safe-haven status 3 attracted buyers, with the metal rising by 2 10.45% over the month, to close at $1,234.9 1 a troy ounce. Meanwhile, ‘Black Gold’ – oil – again saw volatile markets, with uncertainty around global production levels remaining. The Brent Crude benchmark price did manage to rise though by 2.03% to $36.64 a barrel.

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