After several weeks of slippage oil prices appear to be righting themselves: Brent crude is up +0.63% to $51.08 (4.45pm) while WTI crude has lifted more than 1% to $48.82. The better numbers are supported by lower US crude inventories – an eighth straight week of declines – and the likelihood of the US pulling away from the global climate agreement, boosting fossil fuel use.
Elsewhere Barclays analysts have claimed that the US dollar’s rally is more or less over, unless President Trump can come through with a solid fiscal boost. Towards the end of Thursday afternoon the euro was at $1.1211 while the pound – UBS Wealth Management has suggested investors buy on sterling's current weakness – was at $1.2898.
The FTSE 100 finished 23 points up at 7,543.77 with Paddy Power Betfair the out-and-out winner, up 4.34% and 3i Group, up 3.58%. Mediclinic Int and ITV saw 3.4% and 2.1% falls.
- UK FTSE 100 7,543.77 +0.32%
- Dow 21,025.61 +0.08%
- S&P 500 2,415.08 +0.15%
- Nasdaq 6,207.93 +0.13%
- DAX 12,657.27 +0.34%
- CAC 40 5,318.61 +0.66%
- Gold 1,267.10 -0.65%
- Oil WTI 48.84 +1.10%
IT failure not an IT failure
Questions about BA’s chronic IT failure on the bank holiday weekend are still pressing: though BA has apologised though it now looks increasingly likely BA’s board will order an independent inquiry.
So far BA pins the blame on a loss of power at a data centre. “The power then returned in an uncontrolled way, causing physical damage to the IT servers,” BA says in its latest statement. ‘”It was not an IT issue; it was a power issue.”
IAG boss Willie Walsh – BA is owned by IAG which also controls Iberia – says it’s unfair to blame BA boss Alex Cruz for the issue. Bizarrely, BA says the IT failure was not really an IT failure, rather “an electrical power supply which was interrupted”.
45p taxpayer increase
New HMRC figures claims a record number of UK citizens – 364,000 – now pay the top 45p rate of income tax i.e. income more than £150,000. This compares to 311,000 people who paid this rate in 2013-14.
But this select group is tiny – just 1.2% of all income tax payers. Meanwhile the overall number of those paying 20% and 40% tax rates have slipped slightly; overall 25.1m are basic rate taxpayers while 4.2m pay the higher rate 40% rate.
House prices run out of puff
Meanwhile UK house prices have fallen for the third consecutive month according to the latest data from Nationwide. Nationwide claims house prices fell 0.2% month-on-month last month, more than experts had predicted.
On a year-on-year basis though house prices are 2.1% up – still the most anaemic growth since midsummer 2013. “It’s still early days, but [the survey]…provides further evidence that the housing market is losing momentum," Robert Gardner, Nationwide chief economist said.
Other sources, including the Halifax house price index, also point to a slowdown though with interest rates still at rock-bottom levels any major price shifts look unlikely.
Breaking news: US Nasdaq hits new high, hitting 6,225, on better employment numbers.