Market review around the world
EuropeThe euro soared to record highs against the US dollar and Sterling. Equity markets were also positive over the week, with Germany’s DAX index gaining by 3.6 percent. The UK stock markets were also higher, with the FTSE All-Share gaining by 2.7 percent. Higher inflation numbers however strengthened the view that the European Central Bank will not ease monetary policy any time soon.
The US market saw its best week since the start of the year, as hopes grew that the worst of the credit crisis could be over. First-quarter earnings generally encouraged investors, with the technology sector boosted by Intel, IBM and Google, and the financials sector taking a positive tone from JP Morgan. Lower volatility levels, as measured by the VIX index, was also seen as a positive development, resulting in strong gains for the S&P 500 and the tech-heavy NASDAQ.
Positive sentiment spread to Japan, as markets rose for four days in a row. The TOPIX index ended 2 percent higher over the week. However a quarterly report from the Bank of Japan downgraded the economy for the second-consecutive time to the status of "economic slowdown", emphasising worries over rising energy and raw material prices, as opposed to sub-prime problems.
Stocks fell over the week, as regional constituents missed out on the end-of-week rallies experienced by US and European markets. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index ended the week 1.9 percent lower.
Markets were mixed over the week, as gold bullion declined. However, Brent and WTI oil prices surged to record highs over new fears about declining stocks of crude and petrol. In terms of agricultural commodities, rice rose to a record USD 1,000 per tonne, again due to supply concerns. Rice prices have surged in recent weeks as growing economies place restrictions on exports.
[Craig Welsh / Spectrum IFA Group / Expatica]