The UK public finance figures showed the government’s financial position improved last month. The deficit was £9.3bn, according to the Office for National Statistics, taking cumulative borrowing for the financial year so far to £99.3bn – 4.3% lower than at this stage last year. With just one month left to go, this puts the chancellor on course to meet his new full-year borrowing forecast of £108bn – or 6.6% of GDP.
Figures from the European Commission showed that the consumer confidence index jumped to -9.3 points, up from February's figure of -12.7 and better than the forecast -12.4. In the European Union as a whole sentiment improved from -9.3 points in February to -6.7.
Data from the Eurozone services and manufacturing sectors have disappointed this morning, where expansion has slowed slightly in March from February. The euro has weakened as a result.
Canada’s inflation rate slowed in February but stayed within the central bank’s comfort zone. Consumer prices rose 1.1% in the year to February, down from a 1 ½ year high of 1.5% in January but above the market forecast of a 0.9% increase, Statistics Canada data showed on Friday. Lower gasoline prices partially offset higher shelter and food costs in February.
Overnight Chinese manufacturing activity slowed again in March to its weakest rate in eight months from 48.7 to 48.1.The latest indication of slackening growth in the world's number two economy. The weakness appears even more pronounced given that there is usually a seasonal rebound after the Chinese New Year holiday
13.58pm – USD – Markit Manufacturing PMI (Mar): Expected so slow to 56.5.