January also saw Standard & Poor’s (S&P) downgrade the credit ratings of nine eurozone member countries, including France, which lost its coveted AAA rating. Austria, Cyprus, Italy, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Malta were also downgraded, with the ratings agency citing “insufficient”
In the UK, the FTSE 100 index rose by 2% during January. Hopes of a resolution to the eurozone’s debt crisis were tempered by fears over another UK recession, following the news the UK economy had contracted by 0.2% during the final quarter of 2011. In the US, the Federal Reserve announced that it does not expect to increase US interest rates until late 2014. The Dow Jones Industrial Average index rose 3.4% during January while the S&P 500 index rose 4.4%.
In China, the Shanghai Composite index rose 4.2% during January, boosted by optimism that policymakers might start to loosen their monetary stance. China’s government has taken extensive steps to cool the country’s expansion and promote a more sustainable rate of long-term growth. Meanwhile, the Nikkei 225 index rose by 4.1% during January, although sentiment was tempered by the news Japan had posted an annual trade deficit for 2011, caused by the effects of the Great East Japan Earthquake.
Chartered Financial Planner
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