Risk sentiment was supported by a series of strong first-half earnings from Chinese companies as Beijing ramped up plans to revive the economy savaged by the COVID-19 crisis. Electronic components maker Goertek Inc neared a record high while Focus Media Information surged by the 10% daily trading limit after both companies posted strong earnings for the first half. Market participants were also watching out for developments on trade talks between Washington and Beijing. The Trump administration on Thursday declined to acknowledge any plans to meet with China over the Phase 1 trade deal after the commerce ministry in Beijing said bilateral talks would be held “in the coming days” to evaluate the agreement’s progress.
FOLLOW OUR LIVE UPDATES HERE:
8:25am update: UK retail sales surge past the peak before COVID
British retail sales surged past their pre-coronavirus level in July, the first full month that shops selling non-essential goods were open since the country went into lockdown in March.
Separate government borrowing data showed public debt rose above 2 trillion pounds ($ 2.65 trillion) in July for the first time and reached 100.5% of gross domestic product – its highest as a share of GDP since 1961.
The unexpectedly robust retail sales figures showed the strength of consumer demand even as other parts of the economy are struggling to recover from recent hefty losses.
Retail sales volumes rose by 3.6 percent from June – above all forecasts in a Reuters poll of economists – and were 1.4 percent higher than in July 2019, the Office for National Statistics said.
That represented a sharp recovery from double-digit falls in April and May.
Compared with February, before Britain was broadly affected by the pandemic, sales were 3.0 percent higher.
Alistair McQueen, head of savings and retirement at Aviva, said: “This uptick in retail consumption may help ease concerns over the fragility of the UK economy – but not for long.”
7.30am update: UK borrowing hits record level
Borrowing has now breached £150bn in the current financial year – a staggering £128.4bn more than between April and July last year.
It is the highest April-July total since records began in 1993.
The UK’s public debt is now at £2 trillion – its highest point ever.
Check back again soon for more updates…