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Astute Market Overview - 8th March 2023


Last week brought the start of March – also celebrated as Saint David’s Day here in Wales! We’re beginning to see plenty of snowdrops and daffodils out in bloom whilst out on our travels, and sunny spring days will soon be on their way.

However, the temperature outside is still cool, and with snow forecast this week, I am sure we’ll all be keeping an eye on our energy bills.

In 2022, the energy price guarantee came in to dampen energy price increases for domestic customers. The guarantee brings a typical household energy bill to around £2,500 in Great Britain. (Full details can be found on the website).

After some toing and froing over the duration of the guarantee, the government settled on the plan to keep the level of £2,500 until April of this year, and then increase it to £3,000p.a for a year.

This increase from £2,500 to £3,000 would save the government £2.5bn in support, according to Cornwall Insight, a company specialising in energy research, analysis and intelligence.

Last week, speculation grew in the media that, having taken the stance that the aforementioned energy support is under review, the government could decide to extend the energy price guarantee for another three months at the level of £2,500 for typical usage.

Maintaining the rate at £2,500 would mean more money in consumers’ pockets than was previously forecast; this would likely improve the short-term economic outlook, and ease recessionary pressures. We’ll be watching out for further announcements in next week’s Spring Budget, if not before.

We had a raft of Purchasing Managers’ Index data released last week – PMI for short. PMI data is often used as an indicator of economic health. The measure is from 0 to 100, with a read of less than 50 indicating a contraction, above 50 indicating expansion and bang on 50 indicating no change at all.

The global read of composite PMI for February came in at 52.1, the first release above 50 in 7 months. Broadly, companies reported that demand in February was boosted by the outlook for a recession softening and the reopening of the Chinese economy.

Many key regions, including the US, Eurozone and UK all had composite PMI readings over 50, however, some of the strongest PMI readings came from emerging Asia countries.

To give you an example, China’s PMI showed a strong rebound for the country, following the ditching of zero-covid in December. In India, the service sector was particularly strong, with output expanding at the strongest rate in 12 years.

Later this week, we’ll be watching out for:

  • Japan GDP data and an interest rate decision from the Bank of Japan
  • China CPI, and
  • US employment data

See you next time.

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