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UK Retail sales fall in February

Yesterday we saw CBI distributive trades forecast come in worse than expected at -44- this figure reflects the gloom in the retail sector. This was strongly reaffirmed this morning as UK retail sales came in worse than expected for February. As a result the pound has dipped against the USD, EUR and YEN, retail sales have generally held up well considering in the last few months, however the poor weather conditions would not have helped Februarys data.

In other news yesterday the UK gilt auction by the debt management office failed to sell the total £1.75bn on offer- this is the first time such an auction has failed since 2002 and identifies probable concern over the health of public finances. The failure in the auction will concern the government and follows a warning from Mervyn King on additional fiscal stimulus for the UK economy. Future such auctions will be watched closely to gauge if yesterday’s failure was a one off or more failures will follow.

US stocks rose yesterday and the US economy was helped with a glimmer of hope from new home sales and durable goods coming in better than expected. The dollar fell sharply for a brief spell yesterday as treasury secretary Tim Geithners comments were misconstrued by the market. The basis of the comments was the suggestion of the US exploring Chinese proposals to incorporate a global reserve currency and so reduce reliance on the USD as a reserve currency. Naturally the dollar was sold on this suggestion before clarification had filtered through to the media…this really shows how fragile and reactive the markets are in the present economic climate…

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