Commercial property spending down on Brexit fears and global worries Research from Real Capital Analytics for the Evening Standard shows that British and overseas buyers reduced their spending on UK commercial property in the first three months of 2016, triggering an £8bn slump in buying activity. Minutes from the Bank of England attributed the 46% fall in spending to a mixture of factors – the uncertainty created by the impending EU referendum, worries over China’s continuing economic woes and the general slowdown in commercial investment volumes across Europe, fuelled in part by issues such as the immigration crisis. However, the data also shows that where deals have completed prices have held up well. With interest rates likely to remain low, analysts are not predicting any collapse in pricing for the foreseeable future.

Markets – March (Data supplied by The Outsourced Marketing Department) Geopolitical issues continued to dominate global stock markets during March, causing uncertainty and rollercoaster volatility. Economic worries remained, albeit overshadowed by the long race for the White House, the European migrant crisis and terrorism in Brussels ahead of Britain’s June EU referendum. The global oversupply of steel and consequent low prices brought the UK steel industry crisis to a head as the month ended. After starting the year badly, losing 500+ points to below 5,700, the FTSE100 was back above 6,000 by end-January, but further turmoil followed in February and it was briefly down around 5,500. Post-Budget and the Brussels attacks, it was above 6,000 again, hit a 2016 high on 30 March, and finally closed the month on 6,174.90, a rise of 1.3%. Seeing similar volatility, the wider FTSE 250 gained 1.9% at 16,926.12.

The AIM rose 2.6% to 710.78 during March. With Clinton and Trump emerging as presidential frontrunners, contrasting visions of US foreign policy spooked Wall Street at times despite positive economic indicators. January- February angst about when the Federal Reserve might repeat December’s interest rate rise also weakened equities, but March saw a strong recovery by the Dow Jones index. It closed at 17,685.09 for a one-month gain of 7.1%. The NASDAQ advanced 6.8% to 4,869.85. Bourses in crisis-hit Europe also saw volatility; the Eurostoxx50 had declined almost 7% in January. Gyrations continued as events unfolded and the European Central Bank deposit rate was moved more deeply negative in early March over deflation worries. However, the Eurostoxx50 recovered 2.0% to 3,004.93 over the month. Tokyo equities also saw New Year falls but regained some lost ground in March as the Nikkei225 closed 4.6% higher than end-February, at 16,758.67. Currency markets reflected diverse economic perspectives, the US dollar surrendering some early-2016 gains against sterling, losing about 3.6% to $1.44, and sterling weakening a further 0.8% against the euro to €1.26. Global supply and demand uncertainties continued to haunt the oil market, but Brent crude ended the month 10.1% to the good at $40.33. Nervousness created intermittent demand for gold, which ended virtually unchanged at $1,232.69. Download full report here

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