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Banks in focus as stocks end the week on a softer tone

CMC Markets

Europe Leading the winners board in the UK this morning were Rentokil, who announced growing sales across the business in addition to better-than expected cost savings and a strong start to 2013. The stock is testing the 100p level for the first time since Spring 2011 – up 10% on the day. Experiencing contrasting fortunes are shareholders of Bwin.Party who saw their stock fall aggressively on big volume at the open as the company revised their outlook for 2013. Revenues have been adversely impacted by “user experience issues” – particularly concerning given the strength of online competition in the gaming space. In Sweden popular fashion retailer H&M saw their stock offered marginally lower as traders responded to lower than expected like-for-like sales for the month of February. The market reaction looks kind relative to the sell-off in Spanish firm Inditex yesterday despite their impressive numbers. US Banking stocks have come into focus this morning after both JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs came to loggerheads with the Fed over their capital strength last night – both were warned to revise their adequacy plans by the end of Q3 this year. Adding to the pressure on JPM stock was the almost laughable approach taken by former executives at the ‘London Whale’ hearing, with everyone claiming to have been looking the other way – presumably counting their multi-million dollar salaries – whilst Bruno Iksil punted away $6bn of company funds. Unsurprisingly, the bank find themselves at the bottom of the Dow performers list this morning… In a more positive banking story, Bank of America launched a welcome $5bn share buy-back that sees them top the Dow leader board in early trade. FX While acknowledging the fall of Sterling has helped UK exports since the onset of the financial crisis, Mervyn King today stressed that policy makers are not actively talking down the pound. £/$ has fallen nearly 5% since Feb 1st, and many analysts have highlighted the potential inflationary pressures that a weak currency brings for a country where the average basket of goods relies so heavily on imports. Cable was up as much as 0.3% in response. The big question for the US Dollar remains if and when the Fed will begin phasing out its asset purchase program. CPI figures today came in roughly in line with forecasts, indicating there is still room for the Fed to push on with monetary stimulus to try and ensure the recent US recovery remains firmly on track. This has weighed on the greenback for much of the day, with E/$ up over 0.4% by mid-afternoon, aided by Euro strength following progress made by political heads over a rescue package for Cyprus. Commodities Gold looks set to post another welcome gain this week, which will make it back to back green candles for the yellow metal for the first time since January. Demand as a classic inflationary hedge seems to be picking up and Bullion refiners claim that physical demand remains strong at these levels, notably from the far-east. A report released last weekend shows that Banks have made substantial headway in reducing short positions in recent weeks, overall short exposure has dropped from 140k tonnes down to 89k tonnes since last summer. Other notable movers were Cotton and Coffee. Cotton surged to an 11 month high on reports that China will increase imports. Estimates from the US department of Agriculture have been bumped 1.4% from the prior month. It was a supply side story for Robusta Coffee markets, as Vietnam, the world’s largest grower of the bean, may be forced to cut exports as this years’ harvest is hampered by drought. Production is tipped to dive as much as 30%, which would be the lowest since 2006. The material (whether or not it states any opinions) is for general information purposes only, and does not take into account your personal circumstances or objectives. Nothing in this material is (or should be considered to be) financial, investment or other advice on which reliance should be placed. No opinion given in the material constitutes a recommendation by CMC Markets or the author that any particular investment, security, transaction or investment strategy is suitable for any specific person