• March 13th – The Scottish National party will launch the process for holding a second referendum on Scottish independence, Nicola Sturgeon had said. She said the Scottish National party’s mandate for a second referendum “is beyond doubt” after the result of last June’s Brexit vote, in which 62 per cent of Scottish voters backed remain. The Pound rose when Sturgeon reaffirmed her intentions of holding a second referendum for Scotland and some sterling-watchers attributed the rise to the fact that this will sway the government’s approach to the Brexit negotiations further from ‘hard Brexit’ and towards the middle ground to accommodate Scottish views.
• David Davies has a plan for Brexit to March 2019, but standing in his way is French Barnier who wants to take things step-by-step and deal with all issues individually, including a 60bn Brexit bill. Davies wants a smooth transition for the good of UK companies, whilst Barnier is fully aware that the more uncertainty there is in the UK the more chance companies will move over to Europe. So it will not be an easy process for Britain and negotiations will be difficult
• UK mentions in second week of March that it will trigger Article 50 by March 29th after MPs backed the legislation that gives her the power to do so.
• Employers are planning to hire at a slower pace in the second quarter of this year in a further sign that the UK’s jobs boom may be cooling.
• Philip Hammond, chancellor, has dropped an increase in national insurance contributions for the self-employed, as proposed in the Spring Budget. Raising Class 4 NICs by 2 per cent was a progressive measure that would have resulted in a fairer tax system, helping to raise a much-needed £2bn to plug glaring gaps in social care.
• March 16th – BOE keeps rates on hold
• Cost of average home has risen 259% since 1997, while earnings grew 68% in same period
• UK inflation hits 2.3%, highest since September 2013
• UK shoppers started spending again in February after two months of falling retail sales, according to the latest official figures published on Thursday.
In the US
On March 15th, the Federal Reserve raised the target range for the federal funds rate to 0.75 per cent to 1 per cent. The President’s reinvoked travel ban (that was later rejected) as well as a strong dollar, will hit US tourism.
US stocks suffered their worst weekly performance since the November election after Donald Trump failed to rally support for his healthcare plan, raising the pressure on the US president as he pursues the rest of his agenda. After trading up for most of the session on Friday, the S&P 500 sold off as it became clear the alternative to Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act lacked the votes to pass the House of Representatives. The benchmark US stock index then rebounded from its lows when the White House withdrew the bill in a sign that it was ready to move on from healthcare.
Stock indexes still remain at record highs on the back of a cheap Sterling and the Trump trade fray. Oil has remained stable as Opec members are abiding the cut in production, whilst Gold climbs back up to $1250 an ounce on the back of political uncertainty both in UK and the US.