Market Prognosis

A concise summary of the major macro events of the past 24 hours, and selected UK company-specific news.

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March 18, 2024

Interest rate decisions & UK inflation

Macro

The coming week is about interest rates, with policy decisions due from the BoJ, the Fed and the BoE. The most consequential decision is likely in Japan, where the BoJ has indicated its first interest rate increase since 2007. Whether it comes this month or at April’s meeting is unclear.
There is little chance for rate cuts in the US or the UK.

The inflation data for February will be of greater importance for the UK, which will be reported on Wednesday. Expectations are for progress from an annualised 4% to 3.5%.

China’s industrial production grew at 7% pa in the first two months of the year, above the expected rate, providing further evidence that China’s economy may have bottomed.

UK Companies

Fund manager consolidator AssetCo reported that the year ending 30 September 2023 was exceptionally difficult for the asset management sector. UK investor funds under management saw persistent net outflows across the industry. It said it had taken action to eliminate £2.3m of costs.

Bytes updated demand for software and IT Services was robust and continues to see growth from both corporate and public sector clients.

Curry’s sales have been more robust than the Group’s expectations; like-for-like sales are positive, with decent gross margins. Profit is expected to be at least £115m (previously guided £105-115m). It expects to finish the year in a net cash position.

Focusrite warned that challenging market conditions highlighted in January’s AGM statement have continued into 2024.

Marshall’s revenue in the first two months of the year was lower than in 2023, reflecting the weakness seen in last year’s second half. It expects activity levels to remain subdued in H1, followed by a modest recovery in the second half. Recovery will be slower and more modest than previously assumed. Its profit will now be at a similar level to 2023.

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