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21/03/24 Briefing



The FTSE (^FTSE) and European stocks pushed higher on Thursday as traders awaited the latest decision on UK interest rates from the Bank of England (BoE).

Threadneedle Street is widely expected to hold borrowing costs at their record highs of 5.25% despite inflation falling to 3.4% in the year to February.

It comes as the US Federal Reserve held interest rates steady last night, making no changes to its forecast that it will be necessary to cut rates three times in 2024.

  • London’s benchmark index was 1.1% higher in early trade

  • Germany's DAX (^GDAXI) climbed 0.8% and the CAC (^FCHI) in Paris headed 0.5% into the green

  • The pan-European STOXX 600 (^STOXX) was up 0.9%

  • Wall Street is set to open higher as S&P 500 futures (ES=F), Dow futures (YM=F) and Nasdaq futures (NQ=F) were all higher

  • UK government borrowing comes in higher than expected in February

  • Fashion retailer Next reported a 5% rise in annual profit

Bitcoin has rebounded above $67,000 (£524,900) on Thursday morning. The rise comes after US Federal Reserve decision to hold interest rates at their current levels, as announced in a Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) statement on Wednesday.

The FOMC decided to keep the benchmark federal funds rate within the range of 5.25% to 5.50%.

The Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell said the US central bank expects to make rate cuts "at some point this year." He stressed that inflation has eased substantially but is still too high, and the Fed will need to adjust their monetary policy approach meeting by meeting as it monitors inflation.

Following the FOMC meeting, bitcoin (BTC-USD) increased by over 7% in the past 24 hours, reaching a daily high of $67,700. The uptick follows a downturn in early trading on Wednesday, reaching a low of about $61,500.

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