Finance in brief
The International Monetary Fund cut its growth forecast for the UK economy after a weak performance in the first three months of 2017. In its first downgrade for the UK since the EU referendum in June last year, the IMF said it expected the British economy to expand by 1.7% this year, 0.3 points lower than its April forecast. It contrasted its gloomier outlook for the UK with a rosier forecast for the rest of the EU, with 2017 growth upgrades for the four biggest eurozone countries – Germany, France, Italy and Spain.
The European Central Bank left its interest rate benchmarks and policy statement unchanged. The decision was announced last Thursday after a regular meeting of the bank’s 25-member policy council at its headquarters in Frankfurt. The ECB said it will keep injecting €60bn ($69bn) into the economy every month at least through the end of the year, and longer if necessary. Investors were watching closely to see if the bank would drop language that the purchases could be increased or extended.
The US ended a four-month ban on passengers carrying laptops onboard US-bound flights from certain airports in the Middle East and North Africa. In March, the US banned large electronics in cabins on flights from 10 airports in the Middle East and North Africa because of concerns that explosives could be concealed in the devices taken onboard. The ban has been lifted on the nine airlines affected – Emirates, Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways, Turkish Airlines, Saudi Arabian Airlines, Royal Jordanian, Kuwait Airways, EgyptAir and Royal Air Maroc.