Green shoots: Signs of economic recovery?

Green shoots of recovery are thriving in the UK. Record high-street sales and optimistic economic forecasts show the only way is up for a Britain battered by the global slowdown. Here are 20 reasons why the recession is all but over

1. Retail sales grew by 6.3 per cent in April, their fastest rate in three years, the British Retail Consortium said.

2. Long-haul flight bookings were up 2 per cent in the past two weeks, with demand surging for trips to Jamaica, Egypt and the Dominican Republic, according to TUI, which owns First Choice and Thomson.

3. Sainsbury's has unveiled better-than-expected full-year profits, up more than 11 per cent at £543m.

4. High-street bakers Greggs said like-for-like sales picked up by 2 per cent in the 19-week period to 9 May. Customer numbers have been improving since a snowbound February, and they are now around the levels seen this time last year.

5. New property buyer enquiries rose for a sixth consecutive month and at their fastest pace since August 1999, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

6. The pound rose to its highest level against the dollar in almost six months on Tuesday to close at $1.5270.

7. The scrap value of an old car has shot up by 20 per cent since January, according to Cartakeback, a network of 250 authorised scrapping facilities with manufacturer contracts covering more than 70 per cent of the vehicles on UK roads. Scrap metal prices dropped through the floor last autumn.

8. Housebuilder Redrow is to restart work on some mothballed schemes and begin work on new sites as it believes the market has steadied.

9. Billionaire investor George Soros said the global meltdown had been averted: "National economic stimulus programmes are starting to take effect. The downward dynamic is easing."

10. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development said the UK recession is bottoming out: "The UK is showing tentative signs of, at least, a pause in the economic slowdown."

11. HSBC hailed a "resilient" start to 2009 as it announced record investment banking results. The group has reported first-quarter pre-tax profits "well ahead" on last year.

12. Oil prices hit $60 a barrel for the first time in six months.

13. A survey of 200 companies by Lloyds Banking Group showed business confidence rose for the second month in a row in April, with one in three firms expecting brighter trading conditions in the coming year.

14. The National Institute of Economic and Social Research said Britain's economy had stabilised last month.

15. World equity markets have rallied sharply since early March, with key indices up more than 30 per cent.

16. JPMorgan, the investment bank, said US shares could rise by 20 per cent and most Asian stock markets could gain 25 per cent by the end of 2009. "The global recession is almost over. June would mark an end of the US recession," Jan Loeys, head of global asset allocation, said.

17. Insurance giant Legal & General reported first-quarter sales ahead of expectations. The group said worldwide sales increased by 3 per cent during the three months to the end of March to £382m, ahead of consensus forecasts of £319m.

18. The FTSE 100 share index rose by 9.5 per cent in April. The actuarial firm Watson Wyatt said share prices had continued to improve since the end of last month.

19. Profits at Barclays leapt 15 per cent in the first three months of the year, from £1.1bn to £1.3bn, with one analyst calling it potentially "the best quarter" the bank has ever had.

20. The green job market is thriving. Opportunities in Britain's renewable energy, energy efficiency, sustainability and corporate social responsibility sectors have risen by 58 per cent over the past year, according to Acre Resources.

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