Good morning! Here’s what you need to know in markets on Wednesday.
Philip Hammond will deliver his first budget since becoming Chancellor on Wednesday, with analysts expecting a relatively modest affair. Hammond will step up to the dispatch box in Parliament at 12.30 p.m. GMT (7.30 a.m. ET) on Wednesday, March 8. It is his first budget since becoming Chancellor last July but his second major fiscal statement, following last November’s Autumn Statement.
The biggest focus in the Budget will likely be on any revisions to GDP growth. “The main focus at next week’s Budget is likely to be a large upgrade to the OBR’s 2017 growth forecast,” said JPMorgan’s Allan Monks in a note last week. He is expecting the Office for Budget Responsibility to up its GDP growth forecast for this year from 1.4% to 1.9%. Other analysts are predicting a similar rise.
The House of Lords has defeated a proposed amendment calling for Britain’s final Brexit deal to be put to a second national referendum. Peers in the upper chamber defeated the amendment proposed by Liberal Democrat peers by 336 votes to 131 on Tuesday afternoon. The defeat means that the question of a second referendum is all but dead.
Japan’s economy grew faster than first thought in the final three months of 2016. According to Japan’s Cabinet Office, real GDP grew by 0.3% in the December quarter, higher than the 0.2% preliminary reading issued in February. Despite the upgrade, it fell short of the 0.4% figure that had been eyed by markets.
China just posted a shock trade deficit as Lunar New Year distortions wreak havoc on the data. Imports surged while export growth slowed, leading to a shock trade deficit being recorded. According to China’s General Administration of Customs, yuan-denominated imports jumped by 44.7% from the levels of a year earlier, easily surpassing the 25.2% growth of January and forecasts for a smaller increase of 23.1%.
Japan’s Nikkei share average eased slightly for the fourth consecutive session on Wednesday, as investors turned cautious ahead of a U.S. jobs report later in the week. The Nikkei dropped 0.5% to 19,254.03. The broader Topix fell 0.3% to 1,550.25, while the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 lost 0.3% to close at 13,872.02.
Japanese lender SoftBank is set to sell a stake worth $US8 billion in British chip designer Arm, which it bought last year. The Financial Times reports that SoftBank will put roughly 25% of Britain’s largest technology company into a new, Saudi-backed $US100bn investment fund known as the Vision Fund.
Snap Inc. shares were lower in trading on Tuesday, a day after they fell below the opening price of $US24 a share. The stock of Snapchat’s parent company dropped a further 10% to as low as $US21.44 a share, sending the earliest traders who bought at last Thursday’s debut deeper into the red on their investment.
The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has become the latest major international organisation to increase its growth forecasts for the United Kingdom. The OECD on Tuesday increased its UK growth forecast for 2017 to 1.6%, up from a previous estimate of 1.2%, presented in November last year. The forecast for 2018 remains unchanged at 1%.
The latest reading from Gallup’s US Economic Confidence Index jumped by seven points to +16 in the period from February 27 to March 5, marking the highest weekly average in the index’s nine-year trend. This follows a drop during the week between January 30 and February 5, which came after a huge jump in confidence in November and December following the election of US President Donald Trump.