Good morning. The rate of Consumer Price Index inflation fell to 0.4pc in February from 0.7pc in January, the Office for National Statistics said this morning, defying expectations of a rise.
Elsewhere the FTSE is tipped to open 0.65pc lower following falls on Wall Street and Asian markets overnight.
Asian shares skidded to a two-week trough on Wednesday and the dollar neared four-month highs as coronavirus lockdowns in Europe and potential US tax hikes hit investor sentiment, leading to a flight to safety.
5 things to start your day
1) North Sea on borrowed time as green targets block exploration: Licences to drill will no longer be granted if oil companies threaten the Government’s commitment to a net zero carbon economy.
2) Bentley buyers splash on new £200k Continental GT Speed: Bentley is enjoying a surge in orders as rich motorists splash out on its luxury cars including the new £200,000 Continental GT Speed.
3) Warship U-turn set to boost British shipbuilding: Government reverses course on new supply ships for Navy but fears persist that the work will still go abroad.
4) British Airways owner in Heathrow and Gatwick slots deal: IAG pledged slots at Heathrow and Gatwick airports or aircraft to lenders to renew its corporate overdraft for up to five years.
5) Retail chiefs blast business rates ‘inaction’: Retail bosses have lashed out at Treasury “inaction” on business rates, branding its long-awaited report “a huge disappointment”.
What happened overnight
Asian shares hit a two-week low on Wednesday, oil weakened further and the dollar neared four-month highs as coronavirus lockdowns in Europe and potential US tax hikes hit risk appetite, leading to a flight to safety.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside of Japan was off 1pc after falling 0.9pc on Tuesday. It went as low as 676.46 points, a level last seen on March 9.
The index has had a disappointing run in March after five straight months of gains, as risk assets were earlier spooked by fears inflation will pick up at a faster-than-expected pace led by successful coronavirus vaccine rollouts and massive U.S. fiscal stimulus.
Japan’s Nikkei stumbled 1.8pc while South Korea’s KOSPI slipped 0.5pc. Chinese shares were in the red for a second day with the blue-chip CSI300 index down 1.2pc. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng skidded 1.7pc.
On Wall Street overnight, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.94pc, the S&P 500 lost 0.76pc and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 1.12pc.
Coming up today
Corporate: Bellway, Softcat (Interim results); Burford Capital, Pendragon, (Full year); Diploma, Halma (Trading statement)
Economics: Inflation (UK), flash PMIs (UK, Japan, eurozone, Germany, France, US); durable goods orders (US)