In a wide-ranging report, the respected bi-annual World Economic Outlook of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) stated that the global economy will grow by 3.6% in 2014 and see a further rise of 3.9% in 2015. More importantly, it stated that the UK will have the fastest growing economy of any of the G7 nations this year. It forecast UK growth at 2.9% for 2014, which is an increase on the previous forecast of 2.4%, and growth of 2.5% for 2015. The report added: “In the United Kingdom, monetary policy should stay accommodative, and recent modifications by the Bank of England to the forward-guidance framework are therefore welcome.” “Similarly, the government’s efforts to raise capital spending while staying within the medium-term fiscal envelope should help bolster recovery and long-term growth.” However, whilst bullish on the UK’s and the USA’s economic prospects, the IMF did add a note of caution on growth forecasts for emerging and developing countries such as Brazil and India, scaling back their forecasts by 0.2%. Russia was similarly downgraded somewhat, with forecasts reduced by 0.6% to 1.3%, citing “emerging market financial turbulence and geopolitical tensions relating to Ukraine… on the back of already weak activity.” Mr. George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, welcomed the positive outlook for UK growth, saying that it was: “proof that the economic plan is working.” He went on to denounce the Labour party critics who he said were: “intent on talking down the British economy.” Earlier in the month, the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR), another highly respected economic forecaster, also commented on the UK economy, stating that for the early part of 2014 growth had been “robust” and that they estimated growth for the three months to March of 0.9%.
Markets (April) (Data supplied by the Outsourced Marketing Department)
The equity markets were like the curate’s egg in April – good in parts. In London the FTSE100 regained most of the ground lost in March, seeing a 2.75% gain for the month to close at 6,780.0. This leaves the main index just 150 points off its all-time closing high of 6,930. Meanwhile, the wider FTSE250 continued to lose momentum, finishing at 15,817.20 for a 2.81% fall in the month and the junior AIM market also losing 3.3% to end on 822.6. The Dow Jones index in America marked time, closing at 16,580.84 to record a modest 0.75% gain, whilst the Nasdaq fell off 2.01% to close on 4,114.56. The European bourses continued their recent bullish run, with the Eurostoxx50 gaining for the third straight month, finishing April at 3,198.39 for a 1.16% improvement. The Nikkei 225, however, lost ground, finishing at 14,304.11 to record its 4th straight month of losses, 3.53% on this occasion. The good economic news coming from the UK saw Sterling gain across the board on the foreign exchanges. It finished April against the US Dollar at $1.69 for a 1.2% monthly gain and a 3% gain over the last three months. It also improved against the Euro by 0.83% to €1.22. The Euro itself was also stronger against the US Dollar, closing at $1.39 for a modest rise of 0.72%. On the commodity front, oil had a quiet month, with the Brent Crude benchmark rising slightly by 0.61% to $108.07 a barrel. Gold also saw little movement in April, closing the month at $1,282.90, down just 0.08%, but recording a 2.9% gain over the last three months. Download full report here