FTSE 100 LIVE: European Markets Dip as IMF Warns Against UK Tax Cuts

Created: 21st May 2024

The FTSE 100 and other major European markets followed Asian indices lower on Tuesday, driven by a combination of falling oil prices and a mixed performance on Wall Street the previous day. An update from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) also added pressure, cautioning against tax cuts in the UK as the gap in public finances approaches £30 billion. 

market performance 2024

Market Performance

  • FTSE 100: The UK's leading stock index was down by 36 points, or 0.4%, by midday. 
  • DAX: Germany's DAX index also saw a decline, falling by 0.5%. 
  • CAC: France's CAC index dropped 1%. 
  • STOXX 600: The pan-European STOXX 600 index was 0.5% lower. 


IMF Warning 

The IMF's recent warning highlights concerns about the UK budget's capacity to accommodate new tax cuts. The warning comes as the budget deficit is expected to near £30 billion. The IMF predicts potential financial trouble later in the decade if high spending levels in critical sectors such as health and public investment persist. This poses a significant challenge for politicians, especially in an election year. 


Fiscal Recommendations 

To address the fiscal gap, the IMF recommended several measures: 

  • Reform VAT: Adjustments to the Value Added Tax to increase revenue. 
  • Capital Gains Tax: Reforms to capitalize on profitable investments. 
  • Inheritance Tax: Changes to ensure better revenue generation from estates. 
  • National Insurance Rate: The IMF criticized the decision by Chancellor Jeremy Hunt to lower the national insurance rate, suggesting it should have been maintained or increased. 


 oil prices

Impact of Falling Oil Prices 

Adding to the economic concerns, brent crude futures fell by approximately 1.2%. This decline reflects trader anxiety over the prolonged environment of high interest rates and concerns about ongoing demand. The drop in oil prices impacts various sectors and signals potential economic slowdowns, which further influences market sentiments negatively. 


Political and Economic Implications 

The IMF's warning and the decline in market indices underscore the fragility of the current economic environment. With an election on the horizon, UK politicians face heightened scrutiny and pressure to balance fiscal responsibility with voter-friendly policies. The recommended reforms and the caution against tax cuts highlight the delicate balancing act required to maintain economic stability and public confidence. 


In summary, Tuesday's market performance reflects a complex interplay of global economic factors, fiscal policy challenges, and investor sentiment. The FTSE 100's dip, coupled with broader European market declines, underscores the cautious approach traders are adopting amidst uncertain economic signals and policy warnings. 

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