Major benchmarks closed in mixed territory at the end of May. In a largely subdued final day of trading ahead of the UK Spring Bank Holiday weekend, the domestically focused FTSE 250 closed the month on 22,683.95, a monthly gain of 0.83%, the FTSE 100 registered a modest gain of 0.76% in May, to close on 7,022.61. The Junior AIM index closed on 1,256.11, a loss of 2.23% in the month.
In the UK, business confidence hit a five-year high in May, with the Lloyds Bank Business Barometer showing more firms are upbeat about the economy than at any time since 2016. Confidence increased across all sectors and is the highest in manufacturing, retail, construction and services.
On European markets, the Euro Stoxx gained 1.63% in the month. Economic confidence across the eurozone hit a three-year high at the end of the month, boosted by a jump in sentiment among service sector firms, retailers and consumers, as restrictions begin to ease. In Japan, the Nikkei 225 gained 0.16% in May.
Strong economic data in the US at month end, showed that the jobs market continues to rebound. Investors await further details about President Biden's $6trn budget plan, set to include large amounts of spending on infrastructure, education and combating climate change. At the end of May, investors brushed off a stronger-than-expected US inflation reading. Federal Reserve officials see rises as temporary and not likely to influence policy. The Dow Jones ended the month up 1.93%, while the tech orientated NASDAQ registered a 1.53% loss.
On the foreign exchanges, sterling closed the month at $1.42 against the US dollar. The euro closed at €1.16 against sterling and at $1.22 against the US dollar. Gold is currently trading at around $1,899 a troy ounce, a gain of 7.36% on the month, its biggest monthly advance since July 2020. Brent Crude is currently trading at around $69 per barrel, a gain of 4.04% on the month.