Daily Market Report - 23/02/2015

UK retail sales fell 0.3% in January from the previous month, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics. The decline in sales follows a 0.2% rise in December 2014. The January figure was a 5.4% rise on a year earlier. UK High Street shops have been reducing their prices in an effort to attract customers, the figures indicate. Average store prices were 3.1% cheaper than last January. 

This was the largest year-on-year fall since consistent records began in 1997. On-line sales in January were also up 12% compared to January 2014.

Greece's government prepared reform measures on Sunday to secure a financial lifeline from the euro zone, but was attacked for selling "illusions" to voters after failing to keep a promise to extract the country from its international bailout.

Leftist Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has insisted Greece achieved  negotiating success when Eurozone finance ministers agreed to extend the bailout deal for four months, provided it came up with a list of reforms by Monday.
A government official said the reforms would include a crackdown on tax evasion and corruption. 

Greeks reacted with relief that Friday's deal averted a banking crisis which fellow euro zone member Ireland said could have erupted in the coming week. This means Tsipras has stood by one promise at least to keep the country in the Eurozone.

The Brussels deal opens the possibility of lowering a target for the Greek primary budget surplus, which excludes debt repayments, freeing up some funds to help ease the effects of 25 percent unemployment and pension cuts. It also avoids some language which has inflamed many Greeks, angered by four years of austerity demanded by foreign creditors.

The Eurozone private sector expanded at the fastest pace in seven months led by rising new orders but firms are still cutting prices, suggesting the ECB will have a tough time spurring inflation. The jump in activity will provide a glimmer of hope for policy makers who have struggled to steer the monetary union toward growth with modest inflation, but may also support the European Central Bank's decision to buy sovereign bonds.

The Purchasing Managers' Index, based on surveys of thousands of companies and seen as a good growth indicator, rose to 53.5, its best since July 2014, from a final reading of 52.6 last month. That beat even the most bullish forecasts and marked the 20th month above the 50 level that separates growth from contraction.

In a positive sign for future activity, the gauge of new orders growth at services firms rose to 53.3 from 51.7. Growth in order backlogs rose to the highest level in nearly four years.

Key Announcements:
USD- 15:00 : US existing home sales (Jan) expected to fall to 5.03M from 5.04M

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