London’s main share index and the UK’s retail market both remained resilient this week in the face of various political uncertainties.
On track for its fourth straight week of gain, the FTSE 100 was up 29.54 points at 7,465.96 after falling on Wednesday and Thursday as markets were hit by falling confidence in the Trump presidency.
Caused by a row over the firing of FBI director James Comey, growing scepticism around Mr Trump’s ability to deliver tax and regulatory reform led to a brief dip ahead of recovery on Friday, when gold miner Fresnillo benefited from a rise gold prices.
Meanwhile, warm weather here in the UK helped retail sales to increase more than predicted last month, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
Sales volumes jumped 2.3% in April and were 4% higher than last year, in contrast with March when sales saw the biggest fall in seven years. The stronger-than-predicted rise in sales subsequently pushed the pound above $1.30 to its highest level since September last year.
In pensions, experts have said plans to reduce provisions currently made by the state pension should the current Government remain in place after June’s general election were expected.
The party’s manifesto, revealed this week, suggests ditching the ‘triple lock’ system where pensions would rise in line with the highest of average earnings, prices or 2.5%, with plans revealed to cut the 2.5% element and leave a ‘double lock’ in place instead.
Labour and the Liberal Democrats have otherwise vowed to maintain the triple lock throughout the next Parliament.
Wage growth was also revealed to have fallen behind inflation for the first time since mid-2014. Average weekly earnings increased by 2.1% in the three months to March, while inflation rose by 2.3% in the year to March 2017, according to the ONS.
Conversely, the figure for unemployed people fell by 53,000 to 1.54 million in the three months to March, with UK unemployment rate at 4.6%, its lowest rate in 42 years. The jobless rate has not been lower since 1975, while the level of 16 to 64 year olds in work, at 74.8%, was found to be the highest since records began in 1971.
Elsewhere, US investment firm Vanguard announced the launch of a new service designed to attract personal investors in the UK.
Specialising in the provision of tracker funds with very low charges, until now most of Vanguard’s UK trade came through stockbrokers and financial advisers. Now individuals who previously were only considered where at least £100,000 was available to invest can start with a £500 lump sum, or monthly investment of £100.