UK cuts stake in Lloyds below 3%
More than eight years after bailing Lloyds Banking Group out, the British government has taken another step towards the exit door.
The UK has sold another slice of Lloyds shares, taking its stake below the 3% level.
According to the Treasury, this means taxpayers have recovered over £19.5bn of the £20.3bn which they put into Lloyds, once share sales and dividends received are accounted for.
Economic Secretary to the Treasury, Simon Kirby, says:
“Lloyds’ recent annual results show that we are in a good position to reduce our shareholding further and expect to recover all of the money taxpayers injected into the bank during the financial crisis.”
The agenda: UK unemployment and US rate hike (probably)
Good morning, and welcome to our rolling coverage of the world economy, the financial markets, the eurozone and business.
Central bankers like to avoid surprising the markets. So with everyone expecting a US interest rate rise tonight, there’s no reason for the Federal Reserve to worry about announcing its first hike of 2017.
But it’s not quite a simple as that. Investors across the globe want to know how rapidly the Fed will act this year – is it still expecting three rate hikes this year? Might we only see two, or should traders brace for as many as four?
That means we could see market volatility when the Fed releases its statement, and when Janet Yellen faces the press.
We have to wait a few hours for this excitement, though:
- 2pm EDT/6pm GMT: Fed interest rate decision
- 2.30pm EDT/6.30pm GMT: Press conference with Fed chair Janet Yellen
But in the meantime, we’re also getting a new healthcheck on Britain’s jobs market at 9.30am.
Economists expect that the UK unemployment rate will remain at just 4.8% in the thee months to January, its lowest since the financial crisis.
But the wages figures could show a slight slowdown, with average earnings (excluding bonuses) tipped to rise by 2.5% per year, down from 2.6% last month. That would be a worry, given inflation is picking up.
Also coming up:
It’s election day in the Netherlands. Can far-right leader Geert Wilders notch up another win for the populists and beat mainstream rivals, such as PM Mark Rutte’s VVD?
Results are expected in the early hours of Thursday. No party is likely to win a majority meaning it could take weeks for a coalition to be agreed.
European stock markets are expected to rise modestly in early trading.