A customer at a supermarket in London. Agence-France-Presse
British shoppers started spending again early this year after a sluggish end to 2019, another sign that improved sentiment since December’s election is translating into stronger economic activity.
An indicator measuring expectations for the next three months was the strongest since October last year at +9%.
British shoppers paused in April after three months of strong buying, according to official data that showed continued underlying strength in consumer spending even as the Brexit political crisis unfolded. Monthly retail sales volumes were flat last month, the Office for National Statistics said,
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.3%, Japan's Nikkei returned from a two-day holiday to slip 0.4%. Hong Kong and Shanghai remain steady.
The pan-European STOXX 600 rose 1.3%, with Germany's DAX, London's FTSE 100 and France's CAC 40 gaining between 1.6% and 2.0%.
French business activity fell in September -- its first drop in four months -- according to a key survey released Wednesday which found firms blamed renewed coronavirus disruptions for the slowdown.