Treasure your Easter Eggs

Treasure your Easter Eggs

Treasure your Easter Eggs

This Easter, best treasure those Easter eggs. The price of cocoa in the global commodity markets now exceeds the price of copper. Due to a supply crunch, the price of cocoa surged more than $700 per ton on 26 March and has surpassed $10,000 per metric ton for the first time ever.
Currency Exchange Rates Update

The Pound to Euro exchange rate traded within a 1.5% trading range in March, hitting the month high on 10 March, the low on 23 March and finished the trading month on its 50% trading line.

Against the US Dollar, the Pound traded within a 2.37% trading range in March, hitting the month high on 8 March, the low on 22 March and finished at the bottom end of the trading range.

Against the Australian Dollar, the Pound traded within a 1.56% trading range in March, hitting the month high on 5 March, the low on 21 March and finished in the bottom third of the trading range.

This time last year the Pound had a Spring in it’s Step.

What’s in the news?

UK

As expected, the BoE (Bank of England) kept UK interest rates unchanged for the fifth month in a row, but Governor Andrew Bailey said rate cuts are ‘in play’ in an upbeat assessment of the UK economy.

Sir John Curtice, the UK’s top polling guru put the Conservatives’ chances of winning the next general election at just 1%.GBNews

Good news

UK Q4 2023 GDP growth was unrevised and confirmed a contraction of 0.3% in the UK economy at the end of last year. The drop was the second consecutive quarterly decline after Q3’s 0.1% fall, confirming a technical recession but a number of business surveys suggest the UK economy has already rebounded with the composite PMI (Purchasing Managers Index) averaging 52.9 in the first quarter of 2024, above the 50 growth/contraction threshold.

The Lloyds Bank Business Barometer also signalling a pickup in activity this year with overall confidence remaining steady at 42% in March, staying well above the survey’s long- term average of 28%. Trading prospects remained at the second-highest level since 2017, consistent with stronger activity growth this year.
The CBI (Confederation of British Industry) UK retail sales data showing sales stabilised in March after ten months of decline.

The rate of UK CPI inflation fell more than expected in February, easing to an annual rate of 3.4% from 4.0% in January, the lowest inflation rate since September 2021.

The FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) outlined fresh guidance to “finfluencers,” or influencers who offer financial products on social media, noting they must provide proper risk warnings. Breaching the rules is considered a criminal offense, and violators could face as much as two years in prison.

USA

The Federal Reserve kept interest rates unchanged and largely stuck to its interest-rate cuts to come later in the year mantra, undeterred by the recent increase in the US inflation rate.

The Baltimore bridge disaster has hit supply lines with as much as 2.5 million tons of coal, cars, lumber, and gypsum stuck at Baltimore port, one of the busiest on the US East Coast following the collapse of Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge. Docks in New Jersey and Virginia face the threat of being overwhelmed by traffic that’s being forced away from Baltimore.

Baltimore is crucial for the vehicle industry with various European carmakers operating facilities in and around the port.

The US and UK are reviewing more than $20 billion of crypto transactions that passed through a Russia-based virtual exchange, Garantex using the dollar-pegged cryptocurrency Tether. Garantex has been sanctioned on suspicion of enabling financial crimes and illicit transactions in Russia.

US and Japan have announced plans for the biggest upgrade to their security pact in more than 60 years.

The EU

In the lead up to EU elections due to take place June 6-9, 26,000 respondents in 18 jurisdictions have spoken and 51% of them are dissatisfied with border controls and the level of immigration into the EU.

Half of Europeans disapprove of EU migration policy and demand stronger border controls, poll shows | Euronews

German Bundesbank President Joachim Nagel confirmed the probability of the ECB (European Central Bank) cutting EU interest rates ahead of the summer recess is increasing after the latest EU inflation data continues to edge closer towards the bank’s 2% target.

Both the latest German and Eurozone Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) figures show a deeper than expected contraction in manufacturing.

Others

Gold prices logged their best month in over three years and finished March at a record high propelled by US interest rate cut expectations and strong safe-haven demand.

China’s protracted property downturn is also eroding the balance sheets of its largest state banks as bad loans pile up with the Bank of Communications reporting its property bad loan ratio jumped from 2.8% to 4.99% at the end of 2023. The Industrial & Commercial Bank of China saw its bad loans from residential mortgages rise by 9.6% and the Agricultural Bank of China reported a 4.7% increase in bad residential mortgage loans last year.

Admiral John Aquilino, leader of the Indo-Pacific Command told Congress that China is building its military and nuclear arsenal on a scale not seen by any country since World War II and all signs suggest it’s sticking to ambitions to be ready to invade Taiwan by 2027.

Beijing’s official defence budget has increased by 16% over recent years to more than $223 billion.

Mumbai has for the first time, overtaken Beijing to become Asia’s billionaire capital. With 92 billionaires, Mumbai ranks third behind New York and London, but has moved ahead of Beijing, and Shanghai according to Hurun Research Institute’s global rich list.

This is the first time that India’s most populous city has taken the top spot in Asia.

There are currently 3,279 billionaires globally, a 5% increase from 2023.

Mumbai overtakes Beijing to become Asia’s billionaire capital for first time (cnbc.com)

Treasure your Easter Eggs quote

“I still believe in Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and true love. Don’t even try to tell me different” – Dolly Parton.

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