UK government borrowing at lowest level since 2008 financial crisis

Boost for chancellor as borrowing falls by £20bn to £52bn – but analysts say it is too soon to be complacent

Government borrowing fell to the lowest level since the financial crisis in the year to the end of March as the economy proved more resilient than expected in the aftermath of the Brexit vote.

Borrowing fell by £20bn to £52bn in the 2016-17 financial year after economic growth helped drive tax receipts higher, narrowing the gap between what the government spends and earns.

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‘Two big Brexit themes, pulling in opposite directions’ – experts debate the data

Two former members of the Bank of England’s interest rate-setting committee discuss the outlook for this year

Senior economic adviser at the PwC consultancy and member of the Bank’s MPC from October 2006 to May 2011

Related: How has the Brexit vote affected the UK economy? April verdict

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Metro mayors sound great. But they can’t save local parks and pools | Peter Hetherington

New mayors will be elected on 4 May in England. But what good are they in the face of chronic local government cuts?

City parks lie overgrown and abandoned; swimming pools and leisure centres shuttered; libraries locked up; local bus services axed; youth services scrapped; roads so badly potholed that hundreds of miles face closure. If the list of cutbacks is endless across the country, you can be sure of one thing. There’s worse to come.

Related: England’s new metro mayors will have influential role in NHS | Richard Vize

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How has the Brexit vote affected the UK economy? April verdict

How has the economy reacted to the vote to leave the EU on 23 June? Each month we look at key indicators to see what effect the Brexit process has on growth, prosperity and trade in the UK

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Brexit economy: living standards are falling as the snap election looms

The latest monthly Guardian analysis finds rising prices, sluggish wage growth and a mood of uncertainty among employers as the UK heads to the polls

The pound’s sharp fall since the Brexit vote and a mood of uncertainty among employers has hit household budgets, creating a tough economic backdrop for Theresa May’s snap election, a Guardian analysis shows.

The prime minister will be hoping the resilience seen in the UK economy will hold over the coming months now that she has called an election for this June. But the Guardian’s monthly tracker of economic news shows living standards are already falling as rising prices outpace meagre pay growth.

Related: How has the Brexit vote affected the UK economy? April verdict

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Can Donald Trump better renegotiate Nafta? Yes, by bringing back TPP

Bringing more countries into Nafta will ease disputes and boost trade. Trouble is, the US had all those benefits – it was called the Trans Pacific Partnership

Donald Trump’s administration says it is sticking with its campaign promise to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta). Indeed, Trump has now reiterated his intention to invoke the procedures for renegotiating Nafta soon (within “the next two weeks”), triggering a 90-day consultation period with Congress, before talks with Mexico and Canada commence. Assuming that happens – a very big if – it is worth asking how renegotiation could be done right.

Of course, the US president could simply decide to abandon his promise to renegotiate Nafta, which may be unpopular with many Americans, but is considered by economists to have been beneficial. After all, he has dropped many other campaign pledges, including (fortunately) his oft-repeated vow to label China a currency manipulator “on day one” of his administration.

Related: Trump is reckless – but he knows he can’t afford to antagonise China | Barry Eichengreen

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World stock markets hit record highs as Macron relief rally continues – business live

All the day’s economic and financial news, as relief over the French elections pushes shares higher

Bullish investors are in “firm control” of the markets right now, says Chris Weston of IG.

Weston writes:

Despite concerns of elevated valuation, macroeconomic and geopolitical risks, the fact the MSCI World index is at an all-time high is remarkable, especially when we think that we haven’t seen a 2% pullback for 120 trading sessions.

India’s main stock index, the NSE Nifty, has swept to a new all-time high today.

Tirthankar Patnaik, India strategist at Mizuho Bank, explains:

“Global markets have been very positive on news from the French election,”

Markets are in a “party mood” this morning thanks to last Sunday’s French elections, says FXTM chief market strategist Hussein Sayed.

It now appears that investors are confident that Macron will be France’s next president and will win the battle on 7 May easily. Investors who lost confidence in pollsters after they failed to predict the outcomes of the U.S. elections and Brexit vote are all of a sudden viewing them as credible sources of information again…

The importance of this one single event was reflected in asset classes across the globe, but whether this rally will have legs depends on how big Macron wins. Macron would need to win by a margin of more than 60% in the second round to unite a divided country and ensure that the spread of populism ends in France.

Frankfurt traders have pushed the German DAZ to new record highs:

#DAX hit all-time high for the second consecutive session as #Macron leads the #Frenchelections optinion polls.

European stock markets are inching higher this morning, adding to yesterday’s strong rally.

The French CAC, German DAX and UK FTSE 100 have all gained a little ground in early trading, helping to send global markets to record levels.

Peeperz. Europe opens a smidge higher after European Stoxx 50’s best day in 2 yrs y’day (up 4%)..CAC up a mouse toe this morn (up 4% y’day)

Global stock markets have hit their highest ever levels this morning, as relief over the French presidential election continues to sweep through trading floors.

Related: Stock markets surge after French election result

“Following the first-round election we are now in a crucial fortnight for France in which the impact of terror events, further WikiLeaks’ disclosures or potential scandals are multiplied by the fact that if Macron the centrist doesn’t win, Le Pen the extremist will.

Nevertheless, the chances of an Emmanuel Macron victory in the run-off election are very high indeed.

Markets are surmising that Emmanuel Macron is a dead certainty to be French President in two weeks’ time, and while this is probably the most benign outcome at a time of rising populism it completely overlooks the challenges facing the new French President when he or she takes office on May 8th.

For a start while Mr Macron is an outsider from the established political order, he will still be viewed by the majority of the 40% of French people who voted for anti-Euro candidates, as very much part of the same elite who he has helped to push to one side in this particular vote, which means he will be presiding over a country very much ill at ease with itself.

Good morning, and welcome to our rolling coverage of the world economy, the financial markets, the eurozone and business.

We’re about to discover how much Britain was forced to borrow to meet its financial needs last year, and whether it hit its targets.

Macro data this morning includes March UK Public Finances with net borrowing set to continue to rise following January’s seasonal drop on corporation tax receipts and accounting revisions.

Related: Marine Le Pen attacks Macron as France’s mainstream rallies behind him

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Equality in Japan: is this vision of a fairer society too good to be true?

With its modestly paid bosses and impressive health statistics, Japan is widely hailed as the most equal major economy in the world. But, reports Justin McCurry, this edifice of egalitarianism is beginning to crumble

As entrances go, Misao Sato’s is as inconspicuous as they come. After he walks unannounced on to the shop floor at his company’s headquarters near Tokyo Bay, there is no standing on ceremony, no greetings yelled above the din of the machinery. Employees in blue overalls simply acknowledge the arrival of the president of the Kikanshi printing company with a nod and a smile, and return to work.

Related: The Inequality Project: the Guardian’s in-depth look at our unequal world

Related: Unequal Russia: is anger stirring in the global capital of inequality?

The government is poised to introduce a cap on overtime at 100 hours a month

Related: The Inequality Project: the Guardian’s in-depth look at our unequal world

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