28 April 2010

Oil Companies Post Healthy Profits

Shell, the oil company, has announced big profits for the first quarter of 2010, up by nearly 50% on last year.

The company announced its news after other oil giant BP also announced big returns for the first quarter.

According to both companies the outlook for oil in this year remains firm. Currently a barrel costs around $75 having already peaked at over $80 earlier this year.

A far cry from the end of 2008, when the commodity had sunk to severe lows; after having reached $147 in the summmer, by Christmas a barrel fetched a mere $30.

Since then oil has steadily climbed as demand has risen and global recoveries have taken place. The recent air chaos over Europe which did cause a dip in demand from air companies, has not so far had a major effect.

Meanwhile Greece has had its credit rating slashed by S& P's, down to junk status. The news has caused more euro woe on the foreign exchange market as it plunged in early trading.

23 April 2010

Greece Caves in and Calls for Bailout

Greece sent the euro shooting up today - yes, up! But why?...

Well, today they finally announced that they would be accepting the large bailout package which has been put together by other EU nations (well, those in the Eurozone) and with help from the IMF.

The news brought some relief to investors, who can now foresee that Greece might be able to clear up its financial mess.

However, foreign exchange market insiders commented that the relief to investors is only likely to bring short-term interest in the euro and that the IMF's involvement could be bad in the longer-term for the euro.

16 April 2010

Politics Lead to Pound Drop

Politics are taking over the news in the last few weeks up to the general election on 6th May. Last night ITV showed a debate between the three main party leaders:

- Nick Clegg (Liberal Democrats)
- David Cameron (Conservatives)
- Gordon Brown (Labour)

Before the debate was beamed out to UK households, the Conservative party had managed to gain a better lead over the Labour party leading a rise in the pound sterling on the foreign exchange market..

After all, it seemed as though a clear majority winner was on the cards after all. Then, Nick Clegg as the party leader least likely to see his party win the election, managed to win over the majority of audiences up and down the country with his convincing rhetoric.

Cue: drop in the pound as fresh uncertainty enters the race towards 6th May. Is a hung parliament back on the cards?

15 April 2010

Opinion Poll Shows Tories are Gaining Ground

According to an opinion poll, the Conservative opposition party have managed to gain more points in their lead over the Labour party in the run up to the elections.

The news that one party may make a clear majority win over the other caused the pound to shoot up to a seven-week high against the US dollar and the euro on the foreign exchange market.

Overall the pound has had a relatively strong week, due mainly to positive data from the retail sector while latest figures showed a shrink to the country's trade deficit.

Whether or not the Tories will prove better leaders (if they really do win) or whether investors are simply happy that there is a clear leader at all remains to be seen.

14 April 2010

Pound Rises on Narrowed UK Trade Deficit

More positive news from the UK economy this week, the latest of which was even better than expected! The UK trade deficit narrowed notably in February, and became smaller than it had since 2006.

As a result, the pound rose by a small amount on the currency exchange market. Currency analysts, ever cautious, said that there were some improvements overall to be seen with regards to the British economy and that this might have an effect on the pound in the medium term.

It was stated that the weaker pound may have helped exports to improve - every cloud...!

13 April 2010

Retail Sales Surge in March

Post Easter break, and the sales figures for the UK retail sector look good for March. The latest flurry of surveys, out at the beginning of each new month to show the last month's performance for the economy show that shoppers were out in full force in preparation for Easter.

Falling at the beginning of April, consumers hit the shops in March and made the most of aggressive price cuts offered at most supermarkets. Retail sales were up by their fastest rate in nearly four years.

Meanwhile the euro started this week on a surge of strength thanks to a reported €30 billion bailout package for Greece, which was agreed upon by EU leaders and the IMF. The package - which is essentially a massive loan with a relatively low interest rate (around 5%) - may not be called upon, say Greece. They hope that their austerity measures will be sufficient to cut the deficit there.