European equity markets were fairly mixed as the DAX index gave back yesterday’s gains and slid lower over 0.45%. The CAC and IBEX indices were fairly flat. In the US, the Dow Jones retreated over 100 points (over 0.6%), while the NASDAQ and S&P 500 fell over 0.30% as investors remained cautious ahead of the US Fed meeting decision.
Following the optimistic tone from the UK budget, the London equity benchmark index rallied strongly over 1.3% towards 6950. In addition, we received fairly robust UK employment data as ILO unemployment rate was reported at 5.7% in January, hitting a 6-year low. George Osborne unveiled earlier this afternoon his final Budget before the general elections in May. He reported that “Britain is walking tall again”, following five years of austerity measures and he insisted that deficit reduction has remained his top priority. The sterling traded lower near 1.470 against the US dollar and retreated below 1.38 against the euro.
WTI front month futures extended losses in today’s session and retreated over 2.7% towards $42 per barrel as the weekly EIA oil inventories report showed a large build of 9.62 million barrels in crude oil inventories for the week ending 13th March 2015. Crude oil inventories in the key location of Cushing, Oklahoma, increased 2.86 million barrels, raising concerns regarding a slowdown in the US oil demand.