Insights from the UK and beyond
But a string of bullish updates from British retailers and manufacturers suggest that the second quarter could have got off to a flying start, with fine weather, the Easter holiday and the Royal Wedding all improving the national mood.
Anybody who ignores such signals from within the real economy does so at their peril. In January the pound tumbled when it emerged that the British economy had suffered a shock contraction in the final three months of 2010. The market was caught off guard again a month later when revisions painted an even bleaker picture.
Those of us who had been following closely the steady stream of profit warnings from UK retailers, travel groups and builders were not quite so surprised, particularly as we churned out long lists of companies hit by December’s big freeze and predicted a looming standstill in the construction industry.