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Markets - February

On 27 February, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced a new agreement had been reached on post-Brexit trading arrangements for Northern Ireland. At month end, investors were digesting the trade deal between the UK and the European Union.

In the UK, the FTSE 100 hit the 8,000 milestone for the first time in mid-February, as concerns of a global recession began to ease. Shares were supported by the release of better-than-expected inflation data. The blue-chip index moderated to close the month on 7,876.28, a gain of 1.35% in February. The FTSE 250 ended the month up 0.25% on 19,903.28, while the FTSE AIM closed out the month on 859.37, a small monthly loss of 0.97%.

In the US, the NASDAQ closed February on 11,455.54, a loss of 1.11%. The Dow Jones index closed the month down 4.19% on 32,656.70. In Japan, the Nikkei 225 closed February up 0.43%, on 27,445.56. Japan equities were supported at month end by gains in the Machinery, Precision Instruments and Electrical / Machinery sectors. On the continent, the Euro Stoxx 50 closed the month on 4,238.38, registering a gain of 1.80%.

On the foreign exchanges, the euro closed the month at €1.14 against sterling. The US dollar closed at $1.20 against sterling and at $1.06 against the euro.

Brent crude closed the month trading at around $83 a barrel, a loss of 1.77% over the month. Gold closed the month trading at around $1,824 a troy ounce, a monthly loss of 5.16%. The gold price has been negatively impacted in the month following the release of strong economic data, fuelling expectations of more interest rate increases.

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