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Wall Street mixed, Europe higher as Bank of England holds interest rates at 5.25%

ftse 2X5E8WC (left to right) Ben Broadbent, Deputy Governor for Monetary Policy, Andrew Bailey, Governor of the Bank of England, Katie Martin, Head of Media and Stakeholder Engagement, and Deputy Governor for Markets and Banking Dave Ramsden, during the Bank of England Monetary Policy Report press conference at the Bank of England, London. Picture date: Thursday May 9, 2024.
The FTSE was muted on Thursday, as Threadneedle Street left rates unchanged at 5.25%, where they have been since August. (Alamy Stock Photo)

The FTSE 100 (^FTSE) and European stocks pushed higher on Thursday as traders digested the latest decision on UK interest rates from the Bank of England (BoE). Across the pond, Wall Street opened mixed after figures showed the number of claims for unemployment benefits increased in the US.

As widely anticipated, Threadneedle Street left rates unchanged at 5.25%, where they have been since August. The focus was instead on the vote split, their new forecasts and the forward guidance signals about potential cuts in the future.

The monetary policy committee (MPC) voted 7-2 to leave borrowing costs unchanged, prolonging the squeeze on households that began when interest rates started rising at the end of 2021.

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Andrew Bailey, Sarah Breeden, Ben Broadbent, Megan Greene, Jonathan Haskel, Catherine L Mann and Huw Pill voted in favour of the proposition. The two members voting against the proposition, preferring to reduce the bank rate by 0.25 percentage points to 5% were Swati Dhingra and Dave Ramsden.

This comes despite official figures showing that UK inflation fell to 3.2% in March, edging closer to the Bank’s 2% target.

Read more: Trending tickers: ITV, Nissan, Warner Bros. Balfour Beatty

  • London’s benchmark index was 0.4% higher, touching another fresh high during the session.

  • Germany's DAX (^GDAXI) rose more than 1% and the CAC (^FCHI) in Paris was 0.7% in the green.

  • The pan-European STOXX 600 (^STOXX) was up 0.3%.

  • Wall Street was mixed after the bell in New York as initial jobless benefit claims rose by 22,000 to 231,000 in the week to 4 May. It was the highest level since last August.

  • The pound (GBPUSD=X) was 0.2% up against the dollar at 1.2519.

  • Job market easing makes case for interest rate cut.

  • Best UK mortgage deals of the week.

Kathleen Brooks, research director at XTB, said: "The FTSE 100 and the FTSE 350 both reached fresh intra-day record highs."

She said: "Stocks are fading slightly as we move towards the end of the European session, potentially because the BoE would not commit to a June cut.

"However, we think that this report could be positive for UK stocks in the long term.

"The GDP and inflation forecasts included in the report suggest that the disinflation trend in the UK can continue at nearly full employment, and the growth path is set to improve consistently over the next three years.

"CPI is expected to fall to the BOE’s target in 2026, a year earlier than what was anticipated in the February report. The BOE is painting a positive economic backdrop for the future of the UK, and that is good news for UK stocks."

LIVE COVERAGE IS OVER26 updates
  • Markets close

    Well it certainly was a busy day today, thanks for following along!

    Be sure to join us again tomorrow for the latest UK GDP data (and of course all the news of what's moving markets and happening across the global economy).

    Here's our top stories from today:

  • BoE criticised for being too slow to cut rates

    On the other side of the coin, not everyone is happy about today's decision...

    Julian Jessop, economics fellow at the Institute of Economic Affairs, has criticised the Bank of England for being too slow to start cutting rates.

    He said:

    "The statement included some new language which emphasised the importance of the “forthcoming data releases”. With two sets of price and labour market releases between now and the next meeting in late June, rates could be cut next month, or in August at the latest.

    "The Bank is still moving too slowly for comfort. But the MPC does at least seem to be paying more attention to developments in broad money and credit, which may now play a bigger part in decision making. Better late than never.

  • Chancellor on UK interest rates

    May 9, 2024, London, England, United Kingdom: Chancellor of the Exchequer JEREMY HUNT is seen in Westminster during morning exercise as interest rate decision is expected from Bank of England. (Credit Image: © Tayfun Salci/ZUMA Press Wire) EDITORIAL USAGE ONLY! Not for Commercial USAGE!
    May 9, 2024, London, England, United Kingdom: Chancellor of the Exchequer JEREMY HUNT is seen in Westminster during morning exercise as interest rate decision is expected from Bank of England. (Credit Image: © Tayfun Salci/ZUMA Press Wire) EDITORIAL USAGE ONLY! Not for Commercial USAGE! (ZUMA Press, ZUMA Press, Inc.)

    Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has issued a short statement on the back of the Bank of England decision today:

    "I welcome the fact the Bank of England’s obviously thought about this very hard, they take this decision independently.

    "And I would much rather that they waited until they’re absolutely sure inflation is on a downward trajectory than rush into a decision that they had to reverse at a later stage.

    "What we want is sustainably low interest rates, and I think what’s encouraging is that the Bank of England governor, for the first time, has expressed real optimism that we’re on that path."

    He added:

    "What the Bank of England Governor said today in the report that was published is that the decisions that we have taken in the Budget will increase our GDP and that he is confident that inflation will fall to its target level of 2%.

    "Now, compared to 18 months ago when it was over 11%, it is a dramatic change. Inflation hitting its target a year earlier than many people had predicted.

    "And what that demonstrates is that the decision that we have taken as a country are paying off and we now need to see them through."

  • US jobless claims jump to eight-month high

    Initial jobless benefit claims in the US rose by 22,000 to 231,000 in the week to 4 May, data from the Labour Department showed on Thursday.

    It was the highest level since last August.

    Economists had expected a much smaller rise in new claims, to around 210,000.

  • US overtakes China as Germany's top trading partner

    The US has overtaken China as Germany's top trading partner in the first quarter of this year, according to Reuters' calculations based on official data from the German statistics office.

    Germany's total trade with America came in as €63bn ($68bn) between January to March, while the figure for China was just under €60bn.

    Last year, China was Germany's top trading partner for the eighth year in a row, with volumes reaching €253bn, although that was only a few hundred million ahead of the US.

    Vincent Stamer, Commerzbank economist, said:

    "German exports to the US have now risen further due to the robust economy there, while both exports to and imports from China have fallen. Structural reasons are also a factor.

  • Bitcoin price dips ahead of FTX and Mt Gox bankruptcy payouts

    Bitcoin (BTC-USD) price has slipped below $62,000 over the past 24 hours as investors eye a looming bankruptcy payout that could pose a substantial overhang on the digital asset's price.

    According to Coingecko data, the largest digital asset by market capitalisation has posted a decrease of over 1% and is changing hands for $61,182.

    Mt Gox creditor payout

    The defunct Mt Gox cryptocurrency exchange is set to distribute 142,000 bitcoins, valued at approximately $9.5bn, to creditors before the October deadline.

    A civil rehabilitation trial granted creditors the option to receive their owed amount in cryptocurrency, instead of the fiat currency market price of bitcoin in April 2014, when the exchange filed for bankruptcy.

    Analysts are concerned that the forthcoming distribution might lead to many creditors selling the bitcoin they receive on exchanges once it's in their possession.

    Read the full article here

  • Bailey: June rate cut is not ruled out

    Speaking at the press conference, governor Andrew Bailey has said that the monetary policy committee is neither ruling out nor ruling in a rate cut at its next meeting in June.

    He said:

    Let me be clear, a change in Bank Rate in June is neither ruled out nor a fait accompli.

  • Business concern on interest rates is easing

    Business concern about interest rates is easing, according to the British Chambers of Commerce, in part due to the period of stability since last August.

    Its latest survey showed that 35% of firms are worried about the cost of borrowing, down from 39% at the end of last year. However, these remain high levels of concern compared to before the pandemic.

    David Bharier, head of research at BCC, said:

    Businesses will be hopeful that tentative signals from the Bank translates into a rate cut later this year.

    However, for many SMEs borrowing costs remain very high – and today’s hold means another month of hesitation on investment and growth.

    Tomorrow’s GDP figures could bring some welcome news, but economic conditions remain tough. Alongside high interest rates, firms are grappling with rising costs, skills shortages and further trade friction with the EU.

    Business confidence has been gently ticking up as they see a way out of the inflation and interest rate double whammy, but policymakers need to support this with a clear plan for growth and stability.

  • Best UK mortgage deals of the week

    Mortgage rates have gone up for longer deals compared to last week as future homeowners struggle to find a decent price.

    The average rate on a two-year fixed deal this week stood at 5.85%, below the previous 5.89%, while rates for a five-year deal came in at 5.39%, above last week's 5.34%, according to figures from Uswitch.

    Anxiety has set in among UK mortgage lenders with rates being hiked left, right and centre, amid uncertainty about how the Bank of England's (BoE) interest rate path will play out.

    With just two BoE cuts now expected in 2024, several lenders have raised rates – adding pressure on homebuyers and those looking to remortgage.

    Buyers have become cautious amid rising mortgage rates, which led to a slump in house prices last month.

    Find out the best deals here

  • Bank decision a blow to homeowners

    Today’s decision to hold interest rates will be a blow to homeowners holding out hope that their repayments would start to fall.

    There has already been a 25% rise in mortgage arrears this year and homeowners are struggling to keep on top of mortgage payments that have increased from 24% to 45% of net take-home pay since December 2022.

    Alice Haine, personal finance analyst at Bestinvest, said:

    "Future rate cuts would certainly deliver respite for some mortgage borrowers, many of whom have been forced to get up to speed on all the options available in the market since the BoE first began its rate-hiking cycle.

    "Extending the length of a home loan is becoming an increasingly popular route for some to get a foot on the property ladder with one in five first-time buyers signing up for a mortgage term of more than 35 years in 2023, up from one in 10 in 2022."

    Meanwhile, Sebrina McCullough, director of external relations at Money Wellness, said:

    “Homeowners coming off fixed rates deals this year who think they might struggle with increased payments should seek support from their providers as soon as possible. There is help available.”

  • UK economy returned to growth, says BoE

    The BoE also updated its forecast and now believes that the UK economy returned to growth in the first quarter of this year, after shrinking in the third and fourth quarters of 2023.

    "Following modest weakness last year, UK GDP is expected to have risen by 0.4% in 2024 Q1 and to grow by 0.2% in Q2. Despite picking up during the forecast period, demand growth is expected to remain weaker than potential supply growth throughout most of that period.

    "A margin of economic slack is projected to emerge during 2024 and 2025 and to remain thereafter, in part reflecting the continued restrictive stance of monetary policy," it said.

    The BoE’s base interest rate dictates the rates set by high street banks and lenders. Most major lenders have entered another cycle of increasing their mortgage rates over the past two weeks.

  • Commentary: 'We need a serious rethink of how we deal with inflation'

    Let's get a quick look at some of the comments and reactions to the Bank of England decision today. Hannah Dewhirst, head of campaigns at Positive Money, said:

    “Falls in headline inflation aren’t felt equally across all products, with food prices remaining stubbornly high, and they aren’t the result of the Bank of England’s rate hikes, but easing global pressures.

    “Despite over two years of higher rates now, inflation remains above target because interest rates aren’t fit for the task at hand; they fail to address several major causes of inflation, such as crops shortages and transportation issues caused by climate change.

    “All rate rises have done is hand billions of extra profit to banks while making households poorer and increasing the cost of investments we need, especially in green energy.

    "We need a serious rethink of how we deal with inflation, fit for the challenges of the 21st century, such as widening inequality, geopolitical crises and environmental breakdown.”

  • Bank of England expects deeper decline in inflation

    The Bank of England expects inflation to pick up towards the end of this year, but it is expected to fall more than previously thought.

    It said:

    "CPI inflation is expected to return to close to the 2% target in the near term, but to increase slightly in the second half of this year, to around 2½%, owing to the unwinding of energy-related base effects.

    "There continue to be upside risks to the near-term inflation outlook from geopolitical factors, although developments in the Middle East have had a limited impact on oil prices so far.

    "Back in February, the Bank predicted that inflation would rise to around 2.75% by the end of 2024, so this is a welcome downward move."

    In the longer term, the Bank dropped its projections for CPI inflation to 2.25% for 2025 and 1.5% in 2026, down 0.25 and 0.5 percentage points respectively on February estimates.

  • BoE keeps UK interest rates on hold

    May 9, 2024, London, England, UK: Exterior view of the Bank of England and the Royal Exchange ahead of the interest rate decision. The BOE is expected to leave interest rates unchanged once again. (Credit Image: © Vuk Valcic/ZUMA Press Wire) EDITORIAL USAGE ONLY! Not for Commercial USAGE!
    May 9, 2024, London, England, UK: Exterior view of the Bank of England and the Royal Exchange ahead of the interest rate decision. The BOE is expected to leave interest rates unchanged once again. (Credit Image: © Vuk Valcic/ZUMA Press Wire) EDITORIAL USAGE ONLY! Not for Commercial USAGE! (ZUMA Press, ZUMA Press, Inc.)

    Well it was as expected...

    The Bank of England (BoE) has left UK interest rates unchanged at 5.25%, where they have been since August.

    The monetary policy committee (MPC) voted 7-2 to leave borrowing costs unchanged, prolonging the squeeze on households that began when interest rates started rising at the end of 2021.

    Andrew Bailey, Sarah Breeden, Ben Broadbent, Megan Greene, Jonathan Haskel, Catherine L Mann and Huw Pill voted in favour of the proposition. The two members voting against the proposition, preferring to reduce bank rate by 0.25 percentage points to 5% were Swati Dhingra and Dave Ramsden.

    It comes despite official figures showing that UK inflation fell to 3.2% in March, edging closer to the Bank’s 2% target.

  • UK households face sharp council tax hike

    As a new tax year gets underway, finance experts, RIFT, have looked at where across the nation households are facing the most significant increase in costs as a result of council tax hikes, with Birmingham topping the table when it comes to the sharpest annual jump.

    The figures show that: -

    • The average household across England will pay £2,171 in council tax during the 2024/25 tax year - A 5.1% increase on 2023/24.

    Highest council tax cost

    • The highest council tax in the land is found in Rutland, where the average household will be paying £2,543 over this tax year.

    • The City of Nottingham also ranks high at £2,530, as does Dorset (£2,504), Lewes (£2,503), with the average annual cost also sitting above the £2,500 threshold.

    Largest year on year increase

    • While Rutland is home to the highest council tax bill, it’s Birmingham where households are set to see the largest spike in cost. The average council tax bill is set to increase by 9.3%, adding an additional £178 to household outgoings, the largest increase in both the West Midlands and the nation as a whole.

    • Homeowners in Slough are set to see the second highest increase in England at 7.9%, adding £159 per year to the average council tax bill, also meaning the area has seen the largest increase in the South East.

    • Thurrock ranks third and is home to the highest increase in the East of England at (+7.5%), at +7.1%, Somerset has seen the fourth largest increase and largest spike in the South West, while Westminster also makes the top five with a 6.7% increase - the largest jump in London.

    • Elsewhere across the nation, a 5.5% increase means homeowners in Bolsover have seen the highest increase across the East Midlands. Sunderland, Cheshire East and Doncaster have all seen a 5.1% year on year increase, the largest in their respective regions of the North East, North West and Yorkshire.

  • Rolex seller buys Italian jeweller for £104m

    Zermatt, Switzerland - May 21, 2023: Rolex luxury watches for sale in window store
    Zermatt, Switzerland - May 21, 2023: Rolex luxury watches for sale in window store (rapisan sawangphon)

    Watches of Switzerland, the UK’s top Rolex seller, has bought Italian jewellery brand Roberto Coin for $130m (£104m) in a bid to grow the brand.

    The London-listed retailer, which also owns the Goldsmiths and Mayors jewellery chains, said it will “leverage its operational and retailing expertise” to drive growth at the acquired business.

    Watches of Switzerland will finance the deal with a new $115m loan facility.

    Roberto Coin was founded in Vicenza, Italy, in 1996 and is now the sixth largest jewellery brand by sales in the US. It reported annual revenue of $146.2m and a pre-tax profit of $30.1m in 2022.

    Brian Duffy, chief executive of Watches of Switzerland, said:

    We have partnered with Roberto Coin for over a decade in the US, retailing its elegant jewellery in a number of our Mayors showrooms.

    We believe there is significant opportunity to leverage our proven retail expertise in luxury branded jewellery.

  • BOE sends ripples through markets with bond sales

    The Bank of England’s aggressive push to clear its balance sheet of bonds is sending ripples through money markets, where the cost of obtaining sterling cash hit the highest in three years by several metrics.

    Bloomberg has the details:

    Analysts have warned the central bank will need to halt its weekly bond sales later in the year, or risk undermining future efforts to loosen borrowing conditions. For now the BOE — which could provide further guidance on so-called quantitative tightening after it meets today — is pushing ahead. It’s selling the debt it bought to stimulate the economy during the pandemic — and sucking up excess cash from the market in the process.

    That’s sent the rate banks must offer to attract overnight deposits to the highest relative to the BOE’s key rate since 2021, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

    It also puts the BOE at odds with the European Central Bank and Federal Reserve, which are avoiding direct sales for now, highlighting the delicate task policy makers face as they wean banks off emergency stimulus.

    There’s added urgency in the UK, because the taxpayer foots the bill for holding on to the bonds.

  • Next government ‘will need to raise taxes'

    The winner of the next general election will have to raise taxes to maintain the current provision for public services, according to new analysis by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR).

    It added that there is “essentially no fiscal headroom for any further tax cuts” amid slow economic growth and easing inflation.

    The UK economy grew by 0.1% in 2023 after pressure from higher interest rates and hikes by ratesetters at the Bank of England to slow rampant inflation.

    In its latest economic outlook report, NIESR said it forecasts gross domestic product (GDP) will have grown 0.4% over the first quarter of 2024 and will rise 0.8% for the year as a whole, compared with 2023.

    Nevertheless, it said this still represents an “anaemic UK GDP growth trend”.

    Stephen Millard, deputy director for macroeconomic modelling and forecasting at NIESR, said:

    “Despite the welcome fall in inflation, UK growth remains anaemic.

    “This will make it difficult for any incoming government to carry out the much-needed investment in infrastructure and the green transition, as well as increase spending on public services and defence, without either raising taxes or rewriting the fiscal rules.

    “This makes clear the need to reform the fiscal framework to enable the government to do what is needed for the economy in a fiscally sustainable way.”

  • ITV hit by US writers’ and actors’ strike

    A wide closeup of the picket line during the writers and actors strike in front of Paramount Studios in Burbank, California on July 17, 2023.
    A wide closeup of the picket line during the writers and actors strike in front of Paramount Studios in Burbank, California on July 17, 2023. (Erik Morgan)

    Broadcasting giant ITV (ITV.L) has revealed a 16% plunge in revenues from its production arm after taking a hit from last year's US writers' and actors' strike.

    The group said revenues tumbled to £382m in the three months to March 31 from £457m a year earlier.

    It also expects to see Studios’ revenues fall again over the second quarter after the strike action, which was one of the longest in the industry’s history, brought productions to a halt in 2023.

    The firm, which is behind TV shows such as I’m A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! and Love Island, previously warned the strikes would delay around £80m of revenues from 2024 into 2025. In its latest update it now expects ITV Studios’ revenues to be “broadly flat” overall in 2024.

    Total advertising revenues rose 3% in the first quarter and it is expecting an 8% jump in the half-year to 30 June, with the upcoming UEFA European Football Championship driving ad demand.

    Victoria Scholar, head of investment at Interactive Investor, said:

    "After a tough period last year, shares in ITV have been rebounding in 2024 – in March the company said it is seeing more confidence in the advertising market and it enjoyed its biggest drama success in more than a decade last quarter, Mr Bates vs The Post Office, helping to boost investor confidence in the business.

    "ITV is also hoping for a boost from programmes like Hells Kitchen US in the second half of the year and it also pinning its hopes on stronger ad revenues around the Euros football championships which begin in June.”

  • Used car market hits five year high

    The UK used car market grew 6.5% to almost 2 million units in the first three months of 2024 – the fifth quarter of successive growth.

    According to the latest data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) it was has been the best start to a year since 2019 as the second-hand market hits a five year high.

    Zero emission car sales were up 71% with the highest ever market share at 2.1%.

    Superminis remained the most popular vehicle type, with 640,711 changing hands – a 7.2% increase. In second place, the lower medium segment grew by 9.2% and saw the biggest volume gain at 45,301 units.

    Matas Buzelis, car expert carVertical, said:

    “The used car market has been weathering significant challenges, including stock shortages and a turbulent economy, yet has performed extremely well to record the best start to the year since 2019.

    “These figures are a testament to the sector’s resilience, but also show how key the second-hand market is during times of economic pressure as the lower cost of used cars makes them much more attractive than brand new models.

    “The prices of many used cars have also been gradually sliding backwards — no bad thing as far as consumers are concerned, especially when other household costs have increased so significantly."

  • Pound marginally lower against dollar

    The pound (GBPUSD=X) is slightly lower against the dollar this morning, dipping by around a quarter of a cent to $1.2474 — a fall of 0.2%.

    It is the third consecutive day it has fallen against the US greenback thanks to continued dollar strength. Against the euro, sterling was down 0.1% at €1.161, trading close to a two-week low touched against the single currency on Wednesday.

    Fiona Cincotta, senior financial market analyst at City Index, said:

    "The market will be watching to see whether the Bank of England lowers its inflation forecasts, adopts more dovish forward guidance, or considers potentially cutting rates.

    "In the March Bank of England meeting, the vote split was 8 to 1. This vote split could become more dovish in this meeting.

    "Several policymakers, including Sir David Ramsden, have suggested in recent speeches that they could be moving towards a position where they’re comfortable cutting rates. A more dovish rate vote split of two or more waiting for a cart could point to a sooner rate cut from the central bank."

  • Number of homes for sale rises

    Uxbridge, UK. 27th April, 2024. Estate Agents for sale signs outside terraced houses in Uxbridge in the London Borough of Hillingdon. Credit: Maureen McLean/Alamy
    Uxbridge, UK. 27th April, 2024. Estate Agents for sale signs outside terraced houses in Uxbridge in the London Borough of Hillingdon. Credit: Maureen McLean/Alamy (Maureen McLean)

    The number of UK homes for sale climbed higher last month as rises in mortgage rates deterred potential buyers, a new report has found.

    According to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics), more of its agents had reported an increased in new instructions by sellers than at any point since September 2020, when the post-COVID bounce was still in effect.

    It said this boost in listings suggested people were feeling more comfortable about entering the market. However, recent rises in mortgage rates have slowed buyer demand.

    Simon Rubinsohn, chief economist at Rics, said:

    “Feedback to the latest Rics survey demonstrates the sensitivity of the sales market to interest rates at the present time, given the continuing challenge around affordability.

    “A modest back up in mortgage pricing has contributed to the flatlining in the buyer enquiries metric over the past month, as well as the slightly more cautious signals around near-term expectations.”

  • Bank of England expected to hold interest rates

    The Bank of England makes its interest rate decision today but no one is expecting a cut from the current 5.25%.

    Markets suggest there is just a 5% chance of a rate cut, which would only bring more pain to millions of mortgage holders, house hunters and borrowers.

    The monetary policy committee (MPC) is expected to keep the key rate unchanged at a 16-year high of 5.25%, where it’s been since August, but investors are keen to see if any other member will vote for a rate cut.

    Threadneedle Street will release its latest economic forecasts at noon, alongside the interest rate decision, followed by a press conference 30 minutes later.

  • UK job market eases

    Pay rates for temporary staff in the UK rose last month at the fastest pace in nearly a year amid signs that the job market squeeze is easing.

    Permanent hiring fell by the smallest amount in 10 months, while billings for temporary staff dropped by the least since January, according to the Recruitment and Employment Confederation’s (REC) latest report on jobs.

    The UK job market has come under close scrutiny as Bank of England officials have said they want to see signs that the labour market is easing before they are comfortable cutting interest rates.

    The most recent data indicates that the downturn might be bottoming out after previous REC surveys had depicted a subdued outlook on hiring and pay for newly employed workers.

    "The critical moment in any labour market slowdown is the point at which demand starts to turn around. Today's hiring data suggests that point is close, with fewer recruitment firms reporting a drop in demand," REC chief executive Neil Carberry said.

    Starting salaries for permanent roles were impacted by the change to the national minimum wage, which increased by nearly 10% in April.

    Part of the growth in temporary pay — the fastest since June 2023 — reflected April's 9.8% rise in the minimum wage, Carberry said.

    Read the full article here

  • Asia and US stocks

    Asian stocks were mixed overnight with the Nikkei (^N225) down 0.3% on the day in Japan, while the Hang Seng (^HSI) rose 1.1% in Hong Kong thanks to a 2 bounce in technology shares and a recovery in Chinese property developers.

    The Shanghai Composite (000001.SS) was 0.8% up by the end of the session after China reported better than expected trade figures for April.

    Exports rose 1.5% last month from a year earlier, while imports jumped 8.4%. The renewed growth suggests a stronger recovery in demand than earlier data had suggested.

    Meanwhile, the US dollar rose to 155.59 Japanese yen from 155.52 yen, as reports in Tokyo speculated on the likelihood of further intervention by the Finance Ministry to curb the yen’s slide.

    Across the pond on Wall Street, the S&P 500 (^GSPC) finished virtually unchanged yesterday at 5,187.67. The Dow Jones (^DJI) rose 0.4% to 39,056.39, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite (^IXIC) slipped 0.2% to end at 16,302.76.

    The yield on benchmark 10-year US Treasury bonds rose to 4.49% from 4.46% late on Tuesday.

  • Coming up...

    Good morning, and welcome back to our markets live blog. Today we have another decision on UK interest rates from the Bank of England so stay tuned for all the market reaction and commentary.

    Here's a quick look at what else is on the agenda for today...

    • 7am: Trading updates: Flutter Entertainment, ITV, Balfour Beatty, John Wood

    • 11am: Ireland’s inflation data for April

    • 12pm: Bank of England interest rate decision

    • 12.30pm: Bank of England press conference

    • 1.30pm: US weekly jobless claims

    • 5.15pm: Virtual Q&A with Bank of England chief economist Huw Pill

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