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The EU's decision to grant the U.K. an extension under Article 50, until October 31, reveals two key aspects of continental Europe's position on Brexit.
The point when businesses and households can breathe a sigh of relief about Brexit looks set to be delayed again this week.
With just days to go until the Government triggers Article 50, the consensus view remains that Britain is heading for a "hard" Brexit, which will leave it without unrestricted access to the single market and outside the customs union. We think this view overlooks how political pressures likely will change over the next two years.
Signs that the government is softening its Brexit plans, in response to its substantial defeat in the Commons last week, has enabled sterling to recover most of the ground lost against the dollar and euro in the fourth quarter of last year.
With a no-deal Brexit still a potential outcome and just over five weeks to go until the U.K. is scheduled to leave, it's about time we put some numbers on how high inflation could get in this worst-case scenario.
Taken at face value, six of the eight opinion polls conducted over the seven days indicate that the U.K. will vote for Brexit on June 23. Our daily updated Chart of the Week, on page 3, shows the current state of play.
The minutes of this week's MPC meeting indicate that it won't waste any time to raise interest rates after MPs finally have signed off a Brexit deal.
The pressure on Theresa May from Brexiteers within her own party intensified yesterday, when 60 Conservative MPs signed a letter arguing that they could not back a proposal for a "customs partnership".
The chances of the first phase of the Brexit saga concluding soon declined sharply last week.
The persistence of no-deal Brexit risk has taken a toll on confidence across the economy over the last month.
Claims abound that sterling's sharp depreciation since the start of the year--to its lowest level against the dollar since May 2010--partly reflects the growing risk that the U.K. will vote to leave the European Union in the forthcoming referendum. We see little evidence to support this assertion. Sterling's decline to date can be explained by the weakness of the economic data, meaning that scope remains for Brexit fears to push the currency even lower this year.
The stakes in the Brexit saga have been raised significantly over the summer.
Evidence that U.K. asset prices still are depressed by Brexit risk has become harder to find.
Another month, another strong set of labour market data which undermine the case for the MPC to cut Bank Rate, provided a no-deal Brexit is avoided.
The MPC's "Super Thursday" releases suggest that the Committee won't wait long to raise interest rates after a vote to stay in the E.U., which remains the most likely outcome of June's referendum. Meanwhile, we saw nothing to support markets' view that the MPC would ease policy in the wake of a Brexit.
The Prime Minister is threatening to bring back her Brexit deal to the Commons for a third time before March 20, in a final bid to win over the rebels within the Tory party who want a harder Brexit.
Brexit talks will dominate the headlines this week, with the focal point set to be a meeting of the European Council on Wednesday, where E.U. leaders might give the green light for an extraordinary summit next month to formalise the Withdrawal Agreement.
Both the E.U. and the U.K. government have been keen to emphasise, since the Withdrawal Agreement was provisionally signed off, that March 29 is a hard deadline for Brexit.
Even an ardent Brexiteer could not deny that uncertainty about the outcome of the E.U. referendum is subduing bank lending. The Bank of England's preferred measure of bank lending--M4 lending excluding intermediate other financial corporations, or OFCs--fell by 0.1% month-to-month in April.
The Treasury waded in to the Brexit debate yesterday with a 200-page report concluding that U.K. GDP would be 6.2% lower in 2030 than otherwise if Britain left the E.U. and entered into a bilateral trade deal similar to the one recently agreed by Canada. All long-term economic projections should come with health warnings, and the Treasury's precise numbers should be taken with a pinch of salt.
Once again, MPs failed to coalesce around any way forward for Brexit in the indicative votes process on Monday.
May's E.C. Economic Sentiment survey was a blow to hopes that the six-month stay of execution on Brexit would facilitate a recovery in confidence.
A no-deal Brexit is a remote possibility. The U.K. government and EU are closing in on a deal and Brexiteers within the Conservative party have failed, so far, to trigger a confidence vote on Mrs. May's leadership.
On the face of it, the outperformance of gilts compared to government bonds in other developed countries this year suggests that Brexit would be a boon for the gilt market. In the event of an exit, however, we think that the detrimental impact of higher gilt issuance, rising risk premia and weaker overseas demand would overwhelm the beneficial influence of stronger domestic demand for safe-haven assets, pushing gilt yields higher.
Investors have become more concerned about a no-deal Brexit.
We have been asked several times in recent days whether a pick-up in stockbuilding, as part of businesses' contingency planning for a no-deal Brexit, could cause the economy to gather some pace in the run-up to Britain's scheduled departure from the EU in March 2019.
July's retail sales figures--the first official data for Q3--provided a reassuring signal that consumers can be counted on to drive the economy as the Brexit deadline nears.
Votes in the House of Commons to day likely will mark the start of MPs stamping their collective will on the Brexit process, following the Prime Minister's botched attempt at getting the current Withdrawal Agreement--WA--and Political Declaration through parliament earlier this month.
The housing market perhaps is where the adverse impact of Brexit uncertainty can be seen most clearly.
In our view, the chances of a no-deal Brexit on October 31 have not surged just because Boris Johnson has become Prime Minister and is gesticulating wildly at the Despatch Box.
The vote in the House of Commons today on whether MPs should effectively take control of Brexit negotiations, if Theresa May can't strike a deal by mid-January, looks finely balanced.
Brexit talks have hit an impasse over the Irish border. The Republic of Ireland will veto any deal that creates a hard border with Northern Ireland. This means that Northern Ireland must remain in the EU's customs union.
The E.U.'s decision to grant the U.K. a Brexit extension until October 31 does not extinguish the possibility that the MPC will raise Bank Rate before the end of the year.
EU negotiations tend to go down to the wire; and last week's summit in Salzburg, and Theresa May's statement on Friday, suggest that the Brexit negotiations will do just that.
The further depreciation of sterling yesterday, to its lowest level against the dollar and euro since March 2017 and September 2017, respectively, signified deepening pessimism among investors about the chances of a no-deal Brexit.
The chances of our Brexit base case--a soft departure just before the current October 31 deadline--playing out have declined sharply over the last two weeks.
We have no choice but to revise down our forecast for GDP growth in Q2, now that the threat of a no-deal Brexit likely will hang over the economy beyond March, probably for three more months.
British politics remains a complete mess, with many outcomes, ranging from no-deal Brexit to revoking Article 50, possible in the second half of this year.
The U.K.'s unexpected vote for Brexit means a stronger dollar for the foreseeable future, a sharp though likely containable drop in U.S. stock prices, and a further delay before the Fed next raises rates. The vote does not necessarily mean the U.K. actually will leave the EU, because the policy choices now facing leaders of Union have changed dramatically. An offer of substantial concessions on the migration issue--the single biggest driver of the Leave vote-- might be enough to trigger a second referendum, but this is a consideration for another day.
Just how low would sterling go in the event of a no-deal Brexit? When Reuters last surveyed economists at the start of June, the consensus was that sterling would settle between $1.15 and $1.20 and fall to parity against the euro within one month after an acrimonious separation on October 31.
The U.K.'s political situation is extremely fluid, so it would be risky automatically to assume that the U.K. is heading for Brexit. Although the Prime Minister has resigned, his attempt to hold out until October to begin the formal process of exiting the E.U. signals that he may be seeking to engineer a revised deal, or at least to force his successor to make the momentous decision of whether to trigger Article 50, to begin the leaving process.
Sterling strengthened last week to its highest tradeweighted level since mid-May, amid hopes that the U.K. government will concede more ground to ensure that the European Council deems, at its December 14 meeting, that "sufficient progress" has been made in Brexit talks for trade discussions to begin
This morning's second estimate of Q1 GDP likely will restate the preliminary estimate of a 0.4% quarter-on-quarter rise, confirming that the economic recovery has lost momentum since last year. Meanwhile, the new expenditure breakdown is set to show that growth remained extremely dependent on households and will bring more evidence that businesses held back from investing, ostensibly due to Brexit concerns.
The Prime Minister's announcement on Sunday that the meaningful vote in parliament on her Brexit deal will be delayed from this week, until March 12, came as no surprise after a series of prior postponements.
Sterling has rallied against both the dollar and the euro over the last week on the assumption that interventions by the U.K. Treasury and President Obama in the Brexit debate have shifted public opinion towards remaining in the E.U.
By the close on Friday, the initial reaction in U.S. markets to the U.K. Brexit vote could be characterized as a bad day at the office, but nothing worse. Not a meltdown, not a catastrophe, no exposure of suddenly dangerous fault lines.That's not to say all danger has passed, but the first hurdle has been overcome.
We expect MPs this week to take a big step towards a soft Brexit, which has been our base case since the referendum.
The Prime Minister is in a position on Brexit all chess players dread: zugzwang.
We agree wholeheartedly with the consensus view that the economy would enter a recession in the event of a no-deal Brexit on October 31.
We aren't materially changing our U.S. economic forecasts in the wake of the U.K.'s Brexit vote, though we have revised our financial forecasts. The net tightening of financial conditions in the U.S. since the referendum is just not big enough--indeed, it's nothing like big enough--to justify moving our economic forecasts.
Sterling rebounded last week and the probability of a Brexit, implied by betting markets, fell from 30% to 20%. The gap between cable and interest rate expectations, which opened up at the start of this year, appears to have closed completely, as our first chart shows. Sterling's rally in April quickly ran out of steam, but the evidence that support for "Bremain" has risen recently is persuasive.
With most poll-of-poll measures showing a very narrow margin in the U.K. Brexit referendum, while betting markets show a huge majority for "Remain", today brings a live experiment in the idea that the wisdom of crowds is a better guide to elections than peoples' preferences.
The Prime Minister's resignation and the stillborn launch of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill last week has forced us to revise our Brexit base case, from a soft E.U. departure on October 31 to continued paralysis.
The Chancellor warned last week that he would hold an Emergency Budget shortly after a vote to leave the E.U. to address a £30B black hole in the public finances. The £30B--some 1.6% of GDP-- is the mid-point of the Institute for Fiscal Studies' estimates of the impact of Brexit on public borrowing in 2019/20, which were based on the GDP forecasts of a range of reports.
The alarming pace at which the Government is marching towards the Brexit cliff edge still shows no sign of instilling panic among households or firms.
With just over six weeks to go, opinion polls continue to suggest that the E.U. referendum will be extremely close. Noisy interventions in the public debate from the Treasury, independent international bodies, President Obama, and from the Prime Minister again today have had no discernible positive impact on the support for "Bremain" relative to "Brexit"
Unsurprisingly, cross-party Brexit talks are not going well.
Speculation that the U.K. will end up leaving the E.U. in March without a deal has dominated the headlines over the last month. Politicians on both sides of the Channel have warned that the probability of a no-deal Brexit is at least as high as 50%, even though more than 80% of the withdrawal deal already has been agreed.
Sterling depreciated further last week as the Prime Minister's Brexit plans were tweaked by Brexiteers and given a lukewarm reception by the European Commission.
The latest official data show that net migration to the U.K. hasn't fallen much, despite all the uncertainty created by the Brexit vote.
We would sum up the final stages of the Brexit negotiations as follows: Both sides have an interest in a deal with minimal disruptions, but we probably have to get a lot closer to the cliff- edge for the final settlement.
Business investment has held up better than most economists--ourselves included--expected after the Brexit vote.
June's retail sales figures provided a timely reminder that consumers aren't being haunted by the warnings of the damage that a no -deal Brexit would entail.
News yesterday that exports surged to a record high in April was leapt on as "evidence" that sterling's Brexit-related weakness already is having positive side-effects and that therefore the economy would be relatively unscathed by a Brexit. However appealing this explanation may sound, it is nonsense.
Chief UK Economist Samuel Tombs on the chance of a no-deal Brexit
June's RICS Residential Market Survey brings hope that the housing market already is over the worst.
Housing market data yesterday fostered the view that prices are vulnerable to a fall following April's increase in stamp duty--a transactions tax-- and before the E.U. referendum in June. Political uncertainty, however, has rarely had a pervasive or sustained impact on prices in the past.
The MPC won't seek to make waves on Thursday.
The Prime Minister appears set to have one more go at getting the House of Commons to ratify the Withdrawal Agreement today.
The MPC made a concerted effort yesterday with its forecasts to signal that it is committed to raising Bank Rate at a faster rate than markets currently expect.
August's mortgage lending data from the trade body U.K. Finance provided more evidence that the pick-up in housing market activity in Q2 simply reflected a shift from Q1 due to the disruptive weather, rather than the emergence of a sustainable upward trend.
The U.K.'s unexpected decision to vote to leave the E.U. will have serious ramifications for the global economy, and LatAm economies are unlikely to emerge unscathed. It is very difficult to quantify the short-term effects due to the intricacies of the financial transmission channels into the real economy.
Sterling has appreciated sharply over the last two weeks and yesterday briefly touched its highest level against the euro since May 2017.
Data from trade body U.K. Finance show that mortgage lending has remained unyielding in the face of heightened economic and political uncertainty.
The ECB's statement following the panic on Friday was brief and offered few details. The central bank said that it is closely monitoring markets, and that it is ready to provide additional liquidity in both euros and foreign currency, if needed. It also said that it is in close coordination with other central banks.
Most of the time, sterling broadly tracks a path implied by the difference between markets' expectations for interest rates in the U.K. and overseas. During the financial crisis, however, sterling fell much further than interest rate differentials implied, as our first chart shows.
News that the U.K.'s departure from the E.U. has been delayed by six months, unless MPs ratify the existing deal sooner, appears to have done little to revive confidence among businesses.
The U.K.'s dysfunctional cabinet will meet at the Prime Minister's country retreat today to agree--finally--on a set of proposals for how Britain will trade outside of the E .U.'s customs union and single market.
Recent polls in the U.K. have reminded markets that the vote is too close to call at this point, but investors in the Eurozone appear unfazed, so far. The headline Sentix index rose to 9.9 in June, from 6.2 in May, lifted by the expectations index, which increased to a six-month high of 10.0 from 5.5 in May.
This week's Inflation Report--now released alongside the MPC's decision and minutes of its meeting in a deluge of releases now known as "Super Thursday"--is likely to be a damp squib.
The latest PMIs suggest that investors have jumped the gun in pricing-in a 50% chance of the MPC raising interest rates again as soon as May.
It will take months, and perhaps years, before markets have any clarity on the U.K.'s new relationship with the EU. In the U.K., the main parties remain shell-shocked. Both leading candidates for the Tory leadership, and, hence, the post of Prime Minister, have said that they would wait before triggering Article 50.
Six developments over the summer have increased the likelihood that the government will make concessions required to preserve unfettered access to the single market after formally leaving the EU in March 2019.
The downturn in LatAm is finally bottoming out, but the economy of the region as a whole will not return to positive year-over-year economic growth until next year. The domestic side of the region's economy is improving, at the margin, thanks mainly to the improving inflation picture, and relatively healthy labor markets.
Investors have revised down their expectations for interest rates since the November Inflation Report and now only a 50% chance of a 25bp hike in Bank Rate is priced-in by the end of this year.
Sterling weakened further yesterday in response to the perception that the odds of the U.K. leaving the E.U. in the June referendum are rising. Cable fell to $1.39, its lowest level since March 2009. It is now $0.12 below the level one would anticipate from markets' expectations for short rates, as our chart of the week on page three shows.
The Bank of England will be dragged into the political arena on Thursday, when it sends the Treasury Committee its analysis of the economic impact of the Withdrawal Agreement and the Political Declaration, as well as a no-deal, no- transition outcome.
The renewed fall in market interest rates and sterling this month indicates that markets expect the MPC to strike a dovish note at midday, when the Inflation Report is published, alongside the rate decision and minutes of this week's meeting.
The Q2 GDP figures show that the economy has little underlying momentum.
After seemingly endless speculation, the confidence vote in Theresa May's leadership of the Conservative party finally has been triggered following the submission of at least 48 letters by disgruntled MPs to the Chairman of the 1922 Committee.
As we go to press, Mrs. May's last-minute scramble to Strasbourg appears to have failed to persuade enough rebels to back the government.
The absence of a hawkish slant to the MPC's Inflation Report or the minutes of its meeting suggest that an increase in interest rates remains a long way off.
Hopes that GDP growth might be boosted soon by a pick-up in net exports continue to be undermined by the latest data.
Mexico's central bank, Banxico, capitulated to the sharp MXN depreciation yesterday and increased interest rates by 50bp, for the second time this year, in a bid to support the currency. Raising rates to 4.25% was a brave step, as the economic recovery remains sluggish, thanks mostly to external headwinds. The hike demonstrates that policymakers are extremely worried about the decline in the MXN and its lagged effect on inflation.
The MPC was a little irked by the markets' reaction to its November meeting.
The government remains on course to lose next Tuesday's Commons vote on the Withdrawal Agreement--WA--by a huge margin.
After the first round of voting by Tory MPs, Boris Johnson remains the clear favourite to be the next Prime Minister.
Sterling weakened yesterday, to $1.31 from $1.32, following news that 40 Conservative MPs have agreed to sign a letter of no-confidence in the Prime Minister.
The MPC is holding its nerve and not about to join other central banks in providing fresh stimulus.
On the eve of the referendum, opinion polls continue to suggest that the result is essentially a coin toss. The latest online polls point to a neck-and-neck race, while telephone polls point to a narrow Remain victory.
Britain's shock vote to leave the E.U. has unleashed a wave of economic and political uncertainty that likely will drive the U.K. into recession.
We are revising our forecast for Fed action this year, taking out two of the four hikes we had previously expected. We now look for the Fed to hike by 25bp in September and December, so the funds rate ends the year at 0.875%. The Fed's current forecast is also 0.875%, but the fed funds future shows 0.6%.
The April FOMC statement dropped the March assertion that "global economic and financial developments continue to pose risks" to the U.S. economy, even though growth "appears to have slowed". Instead policymakers pointed out that "labor conditions have improved further", perhaps suggesting they don't take the weak-looking March data at face value. We certainly don't.
The April FOMC minutes don't mince words: "Most participants judged that if incoming data were consistent with economic growth picking up in the second quarter, labor market conditions continuing to strengthen, and inflation making progress toward the Committee's 2 percent objective, then it likely would be appropriate for the Committee to increase the target range for the federal funds rate in June".
This week's Fed meeting eased many LatAm investors' minds, fuelling rallies in most of the region's currencies. We think the U.S. labour market is going through a genuine soft patch but will regain momentum over the coming months, prompting policymakers to hike rates in September.
Net exports in the euro area likely rebounded in Q4. The headline EZ trade surplus rose to €22.7B in November from €19.7B in October. Exports jumped 3.3% month-to-month, primarily as a result of strong data in Germany and France, offsetting a 1.8% rise in imports. Over Q4 as a whole, we are confident that net exports gave a slight boost to eurozone GDP growth, adding 0.1 percentage points to quarter-on-quarter growth.
Further political wrangling yesterday distracted from data showing that the risk of no -deal Brexit is placing increasing strain on the economy.
The U.K.'s balance of payments leaves little room for doubt that sterling would sink like a stone in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
Leaders of the major Eurozone economies were in no mood to give concessions as they met with outgoing U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron this week for the first time since the referendum. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that she sees "no way back from the Brexit vote." This followed comments that the U.K. couldn't be expected to "cherry-pick" the EU rules that it would like to follow after a new deal.
Housing market activity has weakened sharply over the last two months. Indeed, figures this week likely will reveal that mortgage approvals plunged in April and that house price growth slowed in May. The increase in stamp duty for buy-to-let purchases at the start of April and Brexit risk, however, entirely explain the slowdown.
The risk of a snap general election has jumped following Theresa May's resignation and the widespread opposition within the Conservative party to the compromises she proposed last week, which might have paved the way to a soft Brexit.
Households' willingness to save a smaller fraction of their incomes goes a long way to explaining why the U.K. economy hasn't lost too much momentum since the Brexit vote.
Over the sleepy August holidays, a view has gained traction in the media that the U.K. economy is showing little damage from the Brexit vote. Optimists argue that the size and composition of the 0.6% quarter-on-quarter rise in Q2 GDP, the 1.4% month-to-month jump in retail sales volumes in July, and the slight dip in the unemployment claimant count demonstrate that the recovery is in good shape.
Financial markets have gone into another tailspin over the last fortnight, triggered by rising concern about the possibility of a no-deal Brexit and President Trump's threat of further tariffs on Chinese goods.
The Chancellor will struggle to make his Spring Statement heard on March 13 over the noise of next week's key Brexit votes in parliament, likely spanning from March 12 to 14.
October's GDP report, released on Monday, might just manage to break through the wall of noise coming from parliament ahead of the key Brexit vote on Tuesday.
The improvement in the August services PMI has generated hyperbolic headlines suggesting the U.K. is on a tear despite the Brexit vote. Taken literally, however, the PMIs suggest that the revival in business activity in August only partially reversed July's decline. Meanwhile, the impact of sterling's sharp depreciation on the purchasing power of firms and consumers has only just begun to be felt.
Would the U.K. inevitably leave the E.U. if a majority of the electorate voted for Brexit on June 23? Repeatedly, the Government has quelled speculation that it will call for a second referendum on an improved package of E.U. reforms after a Brexit vote on June 23. But unsuccessful referendums have been followed up with second plebiscites elsewhere in Europe.
Following the summer recess, the U.K. Government has turned to the unenviable task of weighing up how much economic pain to endure in order to reduce immigration. The Government's insistence that Brexit "must mean controls on the numbers of people who come to Britain from Europe" suggests it is prepared to sacrifice access to the single market in order to appease public opinion.
In the midst of heightened and potentially longerlasting Brexit uncertainty, the MPC revised down its forecast for GDP growth sharply yesterday and came close to endorsing investors' view that the chances of a 25bp rate hike before the end of this year have slipped to 50:50.
A flawed theory still is circulating that the economy might outperform over the next two quarters because firms will stockpile goods due to the risk of a no-deal Brexit.
The Prime Minister has argued repeatedly during the general election campaign that Britain will prosper under a "strong and stable" Conservative government with a large majority. "Division in Westminster," she argued when calling the election last month, "...will risk our ability to make a success of Brexit and it will cause damaging uncertainty and instability to the country."
The sharp fall in markets' expectations for Bank Rate over the last month has partly reflected the perceived increase in the chance of a no-deal Brexit. Betting markets are pricing-in around a 30% chance of a no-deal departure before the end of this year, up from 10% shortly after the first Brexit deadline was missed.
Economic data have yielded the limelight in recent months to Brexit news and, alas, we doubt that February's GDP data, released on Wednesday, will reclaim investors' attention.
The run of above-consensus news on the U.K. economy came to an abrupt end last week, as a series of survey indicators for January took a turn for the worse. After six months of breathing space, the economic consequences of the Brexit vote are increasingly being felt.
The slump in the Markit/CIPS services PMI in November to its lowest level since July 2016 provides the clearest indication yet that uncertainty about Brexit has driven the economy virtually to a stand-still.
The Conservatives are rallying in the opinion polls, as their uncompromising line on leaving the E.U. by October 31, come what may, resonates with Brexit party supporters.
We remain optimistic on the scope for sterling to appreciate this year, reflecting our views that a deal for a soft Brexit will be reached soon and that the MPC will resume its tightening cycle later this year.
Households' decision to reduce their saving rate sharply was the main reason why economic growth exceeded forecasters' expectations in the aftermath of the Brexit vote.
The downbeat tone of Markit's May manufacturing survey shouldn't come as a surprise, given the weak global backdrop and the inevitable fading of the boost to output from Brexit preparations.
With less than a week to go until MPs' meaningful vote on Brexit legislation, on December 11, the Prime Minister still looks set to lose.
In theory, June should be a crunch month for Theresa May's Brexit plans. The Prime Minister will meet EU leaders on June 28 and hopes to have found a consensus in cabinet by then for how the U.K. will trade with the EU outside of the customs union.
August's Markit/CIPS services survey, released today, likely will show that the economy's biggest sector is continuing to slow. We think that the PMI fell to just 53.0--its lowest level since it plunged immediately after the Brexit vote--from 53.8 in July, below the consensus, 53.5.
February's Markit/CIPS construction survey brought further evidence that the economy is being weighed down by Brexit uncertainty.
The Prime Minister told the public to "face up to some hard facts" about Brexit in her speech on Friday, but she still clung to an unachievable vision of what Britain can hope to achieve.
The EU's negotiations with the U.K. over Brexit are off to a bad start. The position in Brussels is that negotiations on a new relationship can't begin before the bill on the U.K.'s existing membership is settled. But this has been met with resistance by Westminster; the U.K. does not recognise the condition of an upfront payment to leave.
British firms have adopted a cautious mindset since the Brexit vote and are saving a huge share of their earnings, even though high profit margins make a strong case for investing more. Firms likely will run down their cash stockpiles when they become more confident about the medium-term economic outlook, potentially boosting GDP growth powerfully.
While Brexit news will dominate the headlines again--see here for why the odds remain against Mrs. May winning the third "meaningful vote"--February's consumer prices report is the highlight in this week's congested economic data calendar.
September's consumer price figures helped to curb expectations that the MPC might raise Bank Rate again before the March Brexit deadline.
Economic news in Europe continues to take a back-seat to volatility in politics. Yesterday's announcement by U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May that she is seeking a snap general election on June 8th cast further doubt over what exactly Brexit will look like.
Labour costs are rising so quickly that the MPC cannot justify an "insurance" cut in Bank Rate to counteract the impending damage from Brexit uncertainty in the run-up to the October deadline.
Sterling weakened further yesterday as anxiety grew that PM Theresa May will indicate she is seeking a "clean and hard Brexit" in a speech today. This could mean the U.K. leaves the EU's single market and customs union, in order to control immigration, shake off the jurisdiction of the European Court and have a free hand in trade negotiations with other countries.
The starting gun for the "Brexit" referendum will be fired this week if E.U. leaders, who meet for a two-day summit starting Thursday, agree to the draft reform package assembled by Prime Minister and E.U. President Donald Tusk.
Today's labour market figures likely will show that the Brexit vote has inflicted only minimal damage on job prospects so far. The unemployment rate likely held steady at 4.9% in the three months to September, and the risk of a renewed fall in unemployment appears to be bigger than for a rise.
The decision by seven MPs to abandon Labour and set up a new centrist grouping--the Independent Group--will not have a significant impact on the outcome of parliamentary Brexit votes.
May's money and credit data indicate, reassuringly, that the economy still is growing at a steady, albeit unspectacular, rate, despite the endless uncertainty created by Brexit.
August's retail sales figures create a misleading impression that consumers can be relied upon to pull the economy through the next six months of heightened Brexit uncertainty unscathed.
The Prime Minister has revealed that her Plan B for Brexit is to get Eurosceptics within the Tory party on side in an attempt to show the E.U. that a deal could be done if the backstop for Northern Ireland was amended. Her plan is highly likely to fail, again.
February's consumer price figures, released yesterday, put more pressure on the MPC to stick to its plans for an "ongoing" tightening of monetary policy, despite the uncertainty created by the Brexit chaos.
April's consensus-beating retail sales figures fostered an impression that the recovery in consumer spending is in fine fettle, even though the rest of the economy is suffering from Brexit blues. Retailers have stimulated demand, however, by slashing prices at an unsustainable rate. With import prices and labour costs now rising, retailers are set to increase prices, sapping the momentum in sales volumes.
The MPC's "Super Thursday" communications left markets a little more confident that interest rates will rise again in May, shor tly after the likely start of the Brexit transition period.
While financial markets remain obsessed with the Brexit saga, January's labour market data provided more evidence yesterday that the economy is coping well with the heightened uncertainty.
When the dust settles after today's wave of data, we expect to have learned that core retail sales continued to rise in June, core inflation nudged back up to its cycle high, and manufacturing output rebounded after an auto-led drop in May. None of these reports will be enough to push the Fed into early action, but they will add to the picture of a reasonably solid domestic economy ahead of the U.K. Brexit referendum.
The unexpected rise in CPI inflation to 2.1% in July--well above the Bank of England's 1.8% forecast and the 1.9% consensus--from 2.0% in June undermines the case for expecting the MPC to cut Bank Rate, in the event that a no-deal Brexit is avoided.
The consensus expectation that industrial production rose by 1.0% month-to-month in November is far too low; we expect Wednesday's data to show a jump of 2.0% or so. The rebound, however, should not be interpreted as another sign that the economy has been revitalised by the Brexit vote. Instead, we expect the rise chiefly to reflect volatility in oil production and heating energy supply.
EZ equity futures predictably fell out of bed as the news of the Trump victory gradually became clear overnight yesterday. The reaction was less violent than after the U.K. Brexit referendum, though, and Mr. Trump's balanced victory speech appears to have calmed nerves for now.
The U.K.'s dependence on large inflows of external finance was laid alarmingly b are last week, when "hard" Brexit talk by politicians caused overseas investors to give sterling assets a wide berth. Investors now are demanding extra compensation for holding U.K. assets, because the medium-term outlook is so uncertain.
June's trade figures yesterday highlighted that it takes more than just a few months for exchange rate depreciations to boost GDP growth. The trade-weighted sterling index dropped by 9% between November and June as the risk of Brexit loomed large and the prospect of imminent increases in interest rates receded.
The U.K.'s still-large current account deficit makes us nervous that sterling will need to depreciate further over the medium-term and would collapse if Brexit talks fail, causing international investors to take flight.
Last week's official data unequivocally indicated that the Brexit vote has not had a detrimental impact on the economy yet.
Today's September ISM manufacturing survey is one of the most keenly-awaited for some time. Was the unexpected plunge in August a one-time fluke--perhaps due to sampling error, or a temporary reaction to the Gulf Coast floods, or Brexit--or was it evidence of a more sustained downshift, possibly triggered by political uncertainty?
Lacklustre economic data and persistent no deal Brexit risk mean that the MPC won't rock the boat at this week's meeting.
Recent retail surveys have indicated that consumers are not suffering yet from Brexit blues. The BRC reported that year-over-year growth in total sales values picked up to 1.9% in July, from 0.2% in June. After adjusting for falling prices, this measure suggests that year-over-year growth in official retail sales volumes held steady at about 4% last month.
After the drama of the last few days, Brexit developments now are set to proceed at a slower pace.
A cursory glance at November's GDP report gives the misleading impression that the U.K. economy is ticking over nicely, despite Brexit.
We often hear that the large gap between the slowing rising path for interest rates anticipated by the MPC and the flat profile expected by markets is justified because markets have to price-in all of the downside risks to the economic outlook posed by Brexit.
A dearth of properties for sale has helped to ensure that house prices have continued to rise since the Brexit vote, despite weaker demand. But now, signs are emerging that demand and supply are coming closer to balance
The 16-page document--see here--detailing the agreement allowing the EU and the U.K. to move forward in the Brexit negotiations is predictably tedious.
The combination of sluggish GDP growth in October and news that the Prime Minister will attempt to renegotiate the terms of the Brexit backstop, most likely pushing back the key vote in parliament until January, has extinguished any lingering chance that the MPC might be in a position to raise Bank Rate at its February meeting.
The EU has had a better start to the Brexit negotiations than its counterpart across the Channel. The risk of disagreement within the EU on the details with of the U.K.'s exit is high, but the Continent has presented a united front so far, mainly because Mr. Macron and Mrs. Merkel agree on the broad objectives. They have no interest in punishing the U.K., but they are also keen to show that exiting the EU has costs for a country which leaves.
Brexiteers have downplayed the economic consequences of a no-deal exit by arguing that a further depreciation of sterling would cushion the blow.
Unlike other central banks, the MPC has stuck to its message that "an ongoing tightening of monetary policy over the forecast period" likely will be required to keep inflation close to the 2% target, provided a no-deal Brexit is avoided.
The second estimate of Q1 GDP confirmed that the recovery has lost momentum and revealed that growth would have ground to a halt without consumers. GDP growth likely will slow further in Q2, as Brexit risk undermines business investment.
GDP rose by 0.3% quarter-on-quarter in Q2, according to the ONS' preliminary estimate, confirming that the economy has fundamentally slowed since the Brexit vote. The modest growth has reduced further the already-small risk that the MPC will raise interest rates at its next meeting on August 3.
Today's preliminary estimate of GDP likely will show that the economy continued to struggle in response to high inflation, further fiscal austerity and Brexit uncertainty.
July's mortgage approvals data from the BBA brought clear evidence that households have held off making major financial commitments as a result of the Brexit vote. Following a 5% month-to-month fall in June, approvals fell a further 5.3% in July, leaving them at their lowest level since January 2015 and down 19% year-over-year.
Today's preliminary estimate of Q3 GDP looks set to indicate that the Brexit vote has had little detrimental impact on the economy so far.
The slowdown in GDP growth in Q1 reflects more than just Brexit risk. The intensifying fiscal squeeze, the uncompetitiveness of U.K. exports, and the lack of spare labour suggest that the U.K.'s recovery now is stuck in a lower gear.
Some analysts argue that sterling won't recover materially even if MPs wave through Brexit legislation, because the threat of a Labour government worries investors more than a messy departure from the EU.
The second estimate of Q3 GDP last week confirmed that the Brexit vote didn't immediately drain momentum from the economic recovery. But it is extremely difficult to see how growth will remain robust next year, when high inflation will cripple consumers and the impact of the decline in investment intentions will be felt.
Britain still has nothing to show for sterling's depreciation, even though nearly two years have passed since markets started to price-in Brexit risk, driving the currency lower.
In theory, any hit to sentiment and business investment as the E.U. referendum nears could be offset by a better foreign trade performance, due to the Brexit-related depreciation of sterling. But not every cloud has a silver lining.
Taken at face value, the preliminary estimate of Q2 GDP suggests that the economic recovery weathered Brexit risk well. But growth received support from some unsustainable sources, and also probably was boosted by a calendar quirk. Meanwhile, with few firms or consumers expecting a vote for Brexit prior to the referendum, Q2's brisk growth tells us little about how well the economy will cope in the current climate of heightened uncertainty.
Theresa May doubled down on her Brexit stance last week, despite European Council President Donald Tusk stating clearly that her proposed framework for economic cooperation "will not work" because it risks undermining the single market.
When you read between the lines of its public statements on Brexit, the Government appears to be prioritising controlling immigration over maintaining unfettered access to the single market, much to the chagrin of the financial sector.
Weakness across EM asset markets returned after the April FOMC minutes, released last week, suggested that a June rate hike is a real possibility. The risks posed by Brexit, however, is still a very real barrier to Fed action, with the vote coming just eight days after the FOMC meeting.
Both the Prime Minister and Chancellor last week threatened to cut business taxes aggressively to persuade multinationals to remain in Britain in the event of hard Brexit. But these threats lack credibility, given the likely lingering weakness of the public finances by the time of the U.K.'s departure from the EU and the scale of demographic pressures set to weigh on public spending over the next decade.
Taken at face value, the GDP data continue to suggest that the Brexit vote has had no adverse consequences for the economy. The official estimate of quarter-on-quarter GDP growth in Q4 was revised up yesterday to 0.7%, from 0.6%. The revision had been flagged earlier this month by stronger industrial production and construction output figures.
The economy's resilience in the first quarter of this year, in the midst of heightened Brexit uncertainty, can be attributed partly to a boost from no-deal Brexit precautionary stockpiling.
The recent plunge in oil prices is another positive development, alongside looser fiscal policy and the striking of a Brexit deal with the E.U., pointing to scope for GDP growth to pick up next year.
Today's preliminary estimate of Q4 GDP likely will show that the Brexit vote has not caused the economy to slow yet. But growth at the end of last year appears to have relied excessively on household spending, which has been increasingly financed by debt. GDP growth likely will slow decisively in Q1 as the squeeze on households' real incomes intensifies.
MPs look set to take a decisive step next Tuesday towards removing the risk of a calamitous no-deal Brexit at the end of March.
On the face of it, the potential for a tangible boost to GDP growth from a revival in business investment after a no-deal Brexit has been averted appears modest.
The recent pick-up in mortgage approvals is another sign that households are unperturbed by the risk of a no-deal Brexit.
The Prime Minister set out her blueprint for Brexit yesterday, asserting that the U.K. will leave the single market and potentially even the E.U.'s customs union in order to control immigration and regain lost sovereignty. She argued that "no deal is better than a bad deal", suggesting that the U.K. might even fall back on its membership of the World Trade Organisation as the basis for trading with the E.U., if her demands were not met.
Our Brexit base case is that the new Prime Minister will request, and the E.U. will grant, another lengthy extension of the U.K.'s membership in October, thereby perpetuating damaging uncertainty, but avoiding the pain of no-deal.
Predictably, the Bank of England's estimate that GDP would plunge by 8% in the first year after a disorderly no-deal, no transition Brexit and that interest rates would need to rise to 5.5% to contain inflation grabbed the headlines yesterday.
The U.K.'s unexpected vote for Brexit means a stronger USD for the foreseeable future, pressure on EM currencies and increasing risk premiums. LatAm fundamentals will a sideshow for some time. The focus will be on the currencies, which will be the main shock absorbers.
July's consumer price figures, due tomorrow, likely will bring early evidence that sterling's Brexit-driven depreciation already is pushing up inflation. We think that CPI inflation picked up to 0.6% in July from 0.5% in June, exceeding the consensus forecast for an unchanged reading. Experience of past depreciations suggests that July's figures likely won't be the last time the consensus is surprised by the speed of the rise in inflation.
It would be a mistake to conclude much about the economic impact of the Brexit vote from today's official industrial production figures for September, and the British Retail Consortium's figures for retail sales in October.
Chief U.K. Economist Samuel Tombs on the chances of a second Brexit Referendum
Chief U.K. Economist Samuel Tombs on U.K. Manufacturing
Chief U.K. Economist Samuel Tombs on U.K. Public Finances
Chief U.K. Economist Samuel Tombs on the U.K. Referendum
Chief Eurozone Economist Claus Vistesen on Latvia
Samuel Tombs on U.K. Manufacturing
Chief U.K. Economist Samuel Tombs on U.K. Money Supply
Chief U.S. Economist Ian Shepherdson on Bloomberg Surveillance
A look back on Chief U.K. Economist Samuel Toombs' predictions ahead of the U.K. General Election
Chief U.K. Economist Samuel Tombs the recent increase in Oil
Chief U.K. Economist Samuel Tombs on U.K. Retail Sales
Chief U.K. Economist Samuel Tombs on U.K. Q3 Preliminary GDP data
Chief U.K. Economist Samuel Tombs on the impact of the Referendum
The speed of sterling's rally this month has caught us by surprise.
August's public finances figures, released last week, were an unwelcome but manageable setback for the Chancellor.
Mortgage approvals by the main high street banks dropped to a five-month low of 38.5K in September, from 39.2K in August, according to trade body U.K.Finance.
The ECB will not make any major changes to policy today.
The Chancellor hinted in the Autumn Statement that the fiscal consolidation might not be as severe as it appears on paper because he has built in some "fiscal headroom". By that, Mr. Hammond means that he could borrow more and still adhere to his new, self-imposed rules.
March's public sector borrowing figures brought more signs that the economy has lost considerable momentum this year. Borrowing, on the PSNB excluding public sector banks measure, came in at £5.1B in March, up slightly from £4.3B in March 2016.
Today's second estimate of Q2 GDP likely will restate the preliminary estimate that quarter-onquarter growth picked up to 0.6%, from 0.4% in Q1. Over the last two decades, the second estimate of GDP has differed from the preliminary estimate just 38% of the time.
Mark Carney's assertion that "now is not yet the time to raise rates" fell on deaf ears last week. Markets are pricing-in a 20% chance that the MPC will increase Bank Rate at the next meeting on August 3, up from 10% just after the MPC's meeting on June 15, when three members voted to hike rates.
We think that the higher inflation outlook means that the MPC will dash hopes of unconventional stimulus on August 4 and instead will opt only to cut Bank Rate to 0.25%, from 0.50% currently. The minutes of July's MPC meeting show, however, that the MPC is mulling all the options. As a result, it is worth reviewing how a QE programme might be designed and what impact it might have on bond yields.
November's interest rate rise, which took investors by surprise, was triggered in part by the MPC slashing its estimate of trend growth to 1.5%, from an implicit 2.0%.
Yesterday's IFO survey in Germany was a nasty downside surprise for markets. The business climate index slipped to 106.2 in August, from 108.3 in July, well below the consensus forecast for a modest rise. In addition, the expectations index slid ominously to 100.1, from a revised 102.1 in July.
We expect the second estimate of Q1 GDP, released today, to restate that quarter-on-quarter growth slowed to just 0.3%, from 0.7% in Q4. The second estimate of growth rarely is different to the first.
Financial markets' inflation expectations have risen sharply since the spring. Our first chart shows that the two-year forward rate derived from RPI inflation swaps has picked up to 3.8%, from 3.5% at the end of April.
The FTSE 100 has dropped by 7% since the end of September--leaving it on course for its worst month since May 2012--and now is 12% below its May peak.
Yesterday's second estimate of Q3 GDP confirmed that the U.K. economy has underperformed this year.
A less rapid tightening of monetary policy in the U.K. than in the U.S. should ensure that gilt yields don't move in lockstep with U.S. Treasury yields over the coming years. But the outlook for monetary policy isn't the only influence on gilt yields. We expect low levels of market liquidity in the secondary market, high levels of gilt issuance and overseas concerns about the possibility of the U.K.'s exit from the E.U. to add to the upward pressure on gilt yields.
Sterling is well below its $1.57 average of the last five years, despite rallying this month to about $1.45, from a low of $1.38 in late February. But hopes that cable will bounce back to its previous levels, after a vote to remain in the E .U., likely will be dashed.
The preliminary estimate of first quarter GDP likely will confirm that the economic recovery lost considerable pace in early 2016. Bedlam in financial markets in January and business fears over the E.U. referendum are partly responsible for the slowdown. The deceleration, however, also reflects tighter fiscal policy, uncompetitive exports, and the economy running into supply-side constraints.
The second estimate of GDP left the estimate of quarter-on-quarter growth unrevised at 0.3%, a trivial improvement on Q1's 0.2% gain.
The MPC's meeting last week was notable not just for its glass half-full interpretation of the latest data, but also for its updated guidance on when it likely will begin to shrink its bloated balance sheet.
Broadly speaking, yesterday's headline EZ survey data recounted the same story they've told all year; namely that manufacturing is suffering amid resilience in services.
Yesterday's labour market data brought further signs that wage growth is recovering from its early 2017 dip.
A downbeat French INSEE consumer sentiment report yesterday continued the run of poor survey data this week. The headline index fell to 95 in February from 97 in January, indicating downside risk f or Q1 consumers' spending. But we remain optimistic that private consumption will rebound solidly, following a 0.4% quarter-on-quarter fall in Q4.
Speculation that another general election is imminent has intensified in recent weeks.
Expectations that the MPC will raise Bank Rate again soon have taken a big knock over the last two weeks.
It seems reasonable to think that manufacturing should be doing better in the U.S. than other major economies.
Gilt yields have tumbled, with the 10-year sliding to just 1.0%, from 1.2% a week ago.
Business surveys coming out of the Eurozone have been remarkably strong recently. The composite PMI for the Eurozone jumped to 56.7 in March--its highest level since April 2011--from 56.1 in February. Germany's IFO business climate index leaped to a 67-month high in March.
Difficult though it is to tear ourselves away from Britain's political and economic train-wreck, morbid fascination is no substitute for economic analysis. The key point here is that our case for stronger growth in the U.S. over the next year is not much changed by events in Europe.
The MPC likely will vote unanimously to keep Bank Rate at 0.75% on Thursday.
The Atlanta Fed's GDP Now estimate for second quarter GDP growth will be revised today, in light of the data released over the past few days. We aren't expecting a big change from the June 24 estimate, 2.6%, because most of the recent data don't capture the most volatile components of growth, including inventories and government spending. The key driver of quarterly swings in the government component is state and local construction, but at this point we have data only for April; those numbers were weak.
Later today, the Chancellor likely will take the first step towards abandoning plans for further fiscal tightening. In
Last week's second estimate of GDP reaffirmed that quarter-on-quarter growth declined to 0.1% in Q1--the lowest rate since Q4 2012--from 0.4% in Q4.
The Prime Minister will invoke Article 50 today, marking the end of the beginning of the U.K.'s departure from the EU. The move likely will not move markets, as it has been all but certain since MPs backed the Government's European Union Bill on February 1.
Sterling found its feet yesterday, rising to $1.33 from Monday's 31-year low of 1.32, but it would be the height of folly to rule out a further short-term decline. By the end of this year, however, we think that sterling likely will have appreciated to around $1.38.
The latest E.C. survey shows the gap between firms' and households' confidence levels has remained substantial.
Equity prices for companies dependent on the U.K.'s residential property market tumbled yesterday as several companies reported poor results for the first half of 2017. Most companies blamed a decline in housing transactions for falling profits.
Fed Chair Powell's semi-annual Monetary Policy Testimony yesterday broke no new ground, largely repeating the message of the January 30 press conference.
A rate hike today would be a surprise of monumental proportions, and the Yellen Fed is not in that business. What matters to markets, then, is the language the Fed uses to describe the soft-looking recent domestic economic data, the upturn in inflation, and, critically, policymakers' views of the extent of global risks.
The bond market has become extremely pessimistic about the long-term economic outlook following Britain's vote to leave the EU. Forward rates imply that the gilt markets' expectation for official interest rates in 20 years' time has shifted down to just 2%, from 3% at the start of 2016.
Yesterday's IFO survey confirmed that the private business sector in Germany was off to a flying start in Q4. The headline business climate index rose to 110.5 in October, from 109.5 in September, lifted mainly by a rise in the expectations index to a 30-month high of 106.5.
Speculation has grown that the Bank of England will announce measures today to calm the recent strong growth in consumer credit, when it publishes its bi-annual Financial Stability Report.
The mortgage market still is defying gravity. U.K. Finance initially reported yesterday that house purchase mortgage approvals by the main high street banks collapsed to 35.3K in February, from 39.6K in January.
At first glance, the U.K. consumer price data show a perplexing absence of domestically generated inflation.
Sterling's depreciation, which began over two years ago, has inflicted pain on consumers but fostered a negligible improvement in net trade.
Yesterday's IFO survey in Germany was a big relief for markets, in light of recent soft data. The main business climate index jumped to 109.5 in September, from 106.3 in August, the biggest month-to-month increase since 2010.
Mortgage approvals by the main high street banks rose to a four-month high of 39.7K in October, from 38.7K in September, according to trade body U.K. Finance.
April's public finances indicate that the economy has remained weak in Q2, casting doubt on the suggestion from recent business surveys that the slowdown in Q1 was just a blip.
Our base case remains that the slowdown in quarter-on-quarter GDP growth to about zero in Q2 is just a blip, and that the economy will regain momentum in Q3 and sustain it well into 2020.
Discussion about whether the U.K. would be better off voting to leave the European Union in the forthcoming referendum is rarely out of the press, raising the question of whether simply holding the national vote could damage the economy even if the U.K. votes for the status quo in the end.
The Chancellor probably can't believe his luck. Public borrowing has continued to fall this year at a much faster rate than anticipated by the OBR, despite the sluggish economy.
The spectre of a general election relentlessly will haunt the new Prime Minister--due to be announced as Tory party leader today before moving into Downing Street tomorrow--but our base case remains that a poll won't happen this year.
The public finances continue to heal rapidly, suggesting that the Chancellor should have scope to soften his fiscal plans substantially in the Autumn Budget.
Public sector borrowing still is on course to greatly undershoot the March Budget forecasts this year, despite October's poor figures.
Even the most bullish estate agent in Britain would struggle to put a positive spin on the latest housing market news. The latest levels of the official, Nationwide, and Halifax measures of house prices all are below their peaks.
After a disappointing run of monthly data, the huge surplus on the main "PSNB ex ." measure of borrowing in January must have been greeted with relief at the Treasury.
It is looking increasingly likely that core inflation, which already has fallen to 2.1% in May, from a peak of 2.7% last year, will slip below 2% next year.
Soon after last week's vote to keep Bank Rate at 0.50%, the MPC's doves were quick to assert that monetary easing is still imminent. A speech by Andy Haldane, published on July 15, called for "... a package of mutually complementary monetary policy easing measures" that should be "delivered promptly and muscularly". Meanwhile, Gertjan Vlieghe, who was alone in voting for a rate cut in July, wrote in The Financial Times last week that he also favours "a package of additional measures" in August.
As widely expected, the ECB held fire yesterday. The central bank left its main refi rate unchanged at zero, and also kept the pace of QE unchanged at €80B a month. The deposit and marginal lending facility rates were also left unchanged at -0.4% and 0.25% respectively. The formal end-date of QE is still Q1 2017, but the press release repeated the message that QE can continue "beyond [Q1 2017], if necessary, and in any case until it sees a sustained adjustment in the path of inflation consistent with its inflation aim."
The Governor's comments late last week successfully recalibrated markets, which had concluded that a May rate hike was virtually certain, despite the MPC's deliberately vague guidance.
Producer prices in Germany rose 0.4% month-to-month in May, stronger than the consensus expectation of a 0.3% gain, and we think further upside surprises are likely in coming months. The headline was boosted by a 0.7% jump in energy prices, but food and manufacturing goods prices also rose.
Political uncertainty has surged since the ECB last met, but the central bank likely will refrain from action today. We think the ECB will keep its refi and deposit rates unchanged at 0.05% and -0.4%, respectively, and leave the monthly pace of QE unchanged at €80B.
The S&P 500 index chalked up a new record on Wednesday by going 3,453 days without a 20% drawdown, making it the longest equity bull-run in U.S. history.
Sterling soared yesterday following news that Britain and the EU have agreed the terms of the transition period from March 2019, which will ensure that goods, services, capital and people continue to move freely, until December 2020.
One way or the other, the post-referendum lurch in sterling will make its recent gyrations pale by comparison. If the U.K. votes to remain in the E.U.--as we continue to expect--then sterling likely will jump up to about $1.48 immediately afterwards. As our first chart shows, the gap between sterling and the level implied by the current difference between overnight index swap rates in the U.S. and Britain is currently about $0.05.
Yesterday's public finance figures showed that the public sector, excluding public sector banks, ran a surplus of £0.2B in July, a modest improvement on borrowing of £0.4B a year ago.
On balance, our conviction that the MPC will surprise markets on May 2 by retreating from its dovish stance has risen, following last week's labour and retail sales data.
Back in the dim and increasingly distant past the semi-annual Monetary Policy Testimony--previously known as the Humphrey-Hawkins--used to be something of an event. Today's Testimony, however, is most unlikely to change anyone's opinion of the likely pace and timing of Fed action.
The MPC's unanimous decision to keep Bank Rate at 0.75% and the minutes of its meeting left little impression on markets, which still see a higher chance of the MPC cutting Bank Rate within the next 12 months than raising it.
We see considerable downside risk to the consensus forecast that GDP increased by 0.4% quarter-on-quarter in Q4, the same as in Q3.
Sterling will be under the spotlight again today when four members of the Monetary Policy Committee, including Governor Mark Carney, answer questions from the Treasury Select Committee about the recent Inflation Report.
Gilt yields slid to record lows at many maturities in mid-February, and while equity prices have since rebounded, gilt yields have remained anchored at rock-bottom levels. But with political risks rising and deficit reduction still very slow, gilt yields look primed to spring back soon.
Sterling's renewed depreciation to just €1.10--just below last year's nadir--has fuelled speculation that it could reach parity against the euro within the next year.
At the halfway mark of the fiscal year, public borrowing has been significantly lower than the OBR forecast in the March Budget.
Yesterday's public finance figures brought more good news for the Chancellor.
The recovery in the French economy since the sovereign debt crisis has been lukewarm. Growth in domestic demand, excluding inventories, has averaged 0.4% quarter-on-quarter since 2012. This comp ares with 0.8%-to-1.1% in the two major business cycle upturns in the 1990s and from 2000s before the crisis.
The recent deceleration in households' real spending means that either business investment or net exports will have to pickup if the economy is to avoid a severe slowdown this year.
The gap between U.K. and U.S. government bond yields has continued to grow this year and is approaching a record.
The MPC must be very disappointed by the impact of its £60B government bond purchase programme. Gilt yields initially fell, but they now have returned to the levels seen shortly before the MPC's August meeting, when the purchases were announced.
After pricing-in the consequences of sterling's depreciation for inflation last year only slowly, markets are at risk of costly inertia again.
This week's GDP figures showed that firms invested only sparingly in 2016, but their financial fortunes have been bolstered by a recovery in profits. The gross operating surplus of all firms rose by 4.5% quarter-on-quarter in Q4, the biggest increase for 11 quarters. This pushed the share of GDP absorbed by profits up to 21.3%, just above its 60-year average of 21.2%.
We expect today's second estimate of Q2 GDP to confirm that the U.K. has been the slowest growing G7 economy this year.
Sterling jumped last week to its highest level against the dollar since last October in response to news that a general election will be held on June 8. Markets are betting that the Conservative Government will sharply increase its majority, enabling Theresa May to ignore Eurosceptic backbenchers when she strikes a deal with the EU.
The Eurozone's total external surplus hit the skids at the start of the year. Yesterday's report showed that the seasonally adjusted current account surplus plunged to a two-year low of €24.1B in January, from a revised €30.8B in December.
People across Europe are growing wary over the failure of governments to foster economic security since the 2008 crisis. Their conclusion increasingly is that the EU is to blame, so their support for EU-sceptic, and even right-wing nationalist, parties has increased accordingly.
April's consumer price figures, due on Wednesday, are set to show that CPI inflation has fallen, primarily due to the earlier timing of Easter this year than last. We
October's retail sales figures, published last Thursday, extended the month-long run of near consistent downside data surprises.
Gilt yields have shot up over the last couple of months, despite ongoing bond purchases authorised by the MPC in August. Ten-year yields closed last week at 1.47%, in line with the average in the first half of 2016.
If the economy is to enter recession, falling business investment probably will have to be the main driver. Growth in consumer spending likely will slow sharply over the next year as firms become more cautious about hiring new workers and inflation begins to exceed wage growth again.
Speculators who have sold sterling over the last six months have been frustrated. Investors have been overwhelmingly net short sterling, but the pound has hovered between $1.20 and $1.25, as our first chart shows. Undeterred, investors increased their net short positions last week to 107K contracts-- the most since records began in 1992--from 81K a week earlier.
We expect the Fed today to shift its dotplot to forecast one rate hike this year, down from two in December and three in September.
Investors will have to keep their wits about them following the close of polls at 22:00 BST on Thursday. Sterling and other asset prices will move sharply when the likely result of the U.K.'s E.U. referendum is discernible, but exactly when that point will come during the night is uncertain.
As we write, 25 Conservative MPs have confirmed publicly that they have submitted no-confidence letters to the Chairman of the 1922 Committee. That's 23 short of the 48 required to trigger a leadership contest, though some MPs might have submitted letters without making it public.
This weekend's first round of the French presidential election is too close to call. Our first chart indicates that a runoff between Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron remains the best bet. But the statistical uncertainty inherent in the predictions, and the proximity of the two remaining candidates--the centre-right Mr. Fillon and far-left Mr. Melenchon-- mean that this is now effectively a four-horse race.
The third quarter national accounts, due to be published on Friday, likely will not alter the picture of economic resilience immediately after the referendum. The latest estimate of GDP growth often is revised in this release, but revisions have not exceeded 0.1 percentage points in either direction in the last four years, as our first chart shows.
The estimate of services output for the first month of the current quarter usually gets lost among the deluge of national accounts and balance of payments data released for the previous quarter.
Upbeat PMIs, the MPC's abandonment of its easing bias and the High Court ruling that only a parliamentary vote--and not the Prime Minister--can trigger Article 50, all helped sterling to make up some lost ground last week.
Consumer spending has been the main locomotive of the economic recovery over the last couple of quarters, as investment and net trade have dragged on growth. Signs are emerging, however, that consumption is slowing too.
Speculation that another general election is imminent is rarely out of the news. At present, betting markets see about a 35% chance of another election in 2019, broadly the same chance as one in 2022, when it is currently scheduled to be held.
April's GDP report, released on Monday, likely will add fuel to the fire of the re cent sharp decline in interest rate expectations.
Predicting which way markets would move in response to potential general election outcomes has been relatively straightforward in the past. But the usual rules of thumb will not apply when the election results filter through after polling stations close on Thursday evening.
German factory orders struggled in the second quarter. New orders were unchanged month-to-month in May, a poor headline following the revised 1.9% plunge in April. The year-over-year rate rose to -0.2%, from a revised -0.4% in April. The month-to-month rate was depressed by a big fall in domestic orders, which offset a rise in export orders.
May's consumer prices report contained few surprises. The fall in the headline rate of CPI inflation to 2.0%, from April's Easter-boosted 2.1%, matched the consensus, our forecast and the MPC's.
Net trade has been a major drag on the economy's growth rate in recent quarters, and February's trade figures, released today, are likely to signal another dismal performance in the first quarter.
Favourable inflation conditions in Mexico remain in place with June consumer prices increasing just 0.1% month-to-month, unadjusted, better than expected. A modest gain in core prices was largely offset by falling non-core prices, so year-over-year inflation edged down to 2.5% from 2.6% in May.
Odds-on, the consensus forecast for May's GDP report, released on Wednesday, will miss the mark.
Business investment held up surprisingly well last year.
Friday's GDP report should show that the economy narrowly avoided contracting in Q2.
Yesterday's detailed EZ GDP report showed that real output rose 0.3% quarter-on-quarter in Q3, the same pace as in Q2. The year-over-over rate rose marginally to 1.7% from 1.6%, trivially higher than the first estimate, 1.6%. The details showed that consumers' spending and public consumption were the key drivers of growth in Q3, offsetting a slowdown in net trade.
Chile's central bank, the BCCh, held its reference rate unchanged at 2.75% on Tuesday, in line with the majority of analysts' forecasts.
Yesterday's final May PMI data in the Eurozone confirmed the strength of the cyclical upturn. The composite PMI was unchanged at 56.8, in line with the initial estimate.
Taken at face value, the retail sales data in the euro area suggest that consumers' spending hit a brick wall at the end of 2018.
The rise in the Markit/CIPS services PMI to a nine-month high of 51.4 in July, from 50.2 in June, isn't a game-changer, though it does provide some reassurance that the economy isn't on a downward spiral.
News last week increased our conviction that the economy will struggle over the coming months, but then will have a spring in its step next year.
On the face of it, markets' newfound view that the MPC's next move is more likely to be a rate cut than a hike was supported by May's Markit/CIPS PMIs.
The small rise in the Markit/CIPS services PMI to 51.3 in February, from 50.1 in January, came as a relief yesterday.
It would be a mistake to conclude from July's car registrations data that the market finally has turned a corner.
According to Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, it is "almost inevitable" that Labour will table a no-confidence motion in the government next month, shortly after MPs return from the summer recess on September 3.
October's Markit/CIPS services survey added to evidence that the economy has started Q4 on a very weak footing.
The latest U.K. PMIs were unambiguously dreadful. The manufacturing, construction and services PMIs all fell in April, and their weighted average points to quarter-on-quarter growth in GDP slowing to zero in Q2, from 0.4% in Q1. The U .K.'s composite PMI also undershot the Eurozone's for the second month this year.
April's production data, released today, look set to indicate that the industrial sector's recession--its third in the last eight years--deepened in the second quarter. We think the consensus expectation that industrial production held steady in April is too upbeat. We look for a 0.3% month-to-month drop.
The Chancellor's Budget today looks set to prioritise retaining scope to loosen policy if the economy struggles in future, rather than reducing the near-term fiscal tightening. In November, the OBR predicted that cyclically-adjusted borrowing would fall to 0.8% of GDP in 2019/20, comfortably below the 2% limit stipulated by the Chancellor's new fiscal rules.
Mr. Macron's victory in France answers two questions for markets, at least in the short run. Firstly, France will stay in the Eurozone, and Mr. Macron will not call a referendum on EU membership. Mr. Macron has come to power with a mandate to strengthen economic integration and co-operation between Eurozone economies.
The Chancellor lived up to his reputation for fiscal conservatism yesterday and is pressing ahead with a tough fiscal tightening. He hopes that this will create scope to loosen policy if the economy struggles after the U.K. leaves the EU in 2019, but we remain concerned his "fiscal headroom" will be much smaller than he currently anticipates.
April's 2.0% month-to-month leap in industrial production was the biggest upside surprise on record to the consensus forecast, which predicted no change. The surge, however, just reflects statistical and weather-related distortions. These boosts will unwind in May, ensuring that industry provides little support to Q2 GDP growth. Make no mistake, the recovery has not suddenly gained momentum.
The final flurry of opinion polls indicates that voting intentions have changed little over the last few days. The Conservatives have an average lead over Labour of 7.5% in the final p olls conducted by 10 different agencies, only slightly more than their 6.5% lead at the 2015 election.
Industrial production data in Germany continued to defy the signal of doom and gloom from leading indicators.
We're among a small minority of economists forecasting that GDP rose by 0.1% month-to-month in March.
The consequences of sterling's sharp depreciation for inflation were brought home yesterday by the news that the iPhone 7 will cost more than its predecessor. The entry-level version is priced at £60 more than its iPhone 6S equivalent. Of course, the new version is more advanced, but the fact that the dollar price held steady, at $649, demonstrates the U.K. price hike entirely is due to the adverse impact of the weaker pound.
Britain's productivity problem has been building under the surface for years, but it is set to be more pertinent now that the economy is close to full employment.
The recent surge in the oil price has added to the headwinds set to batter the economy over the next year. The price of Brent crude has jumped by $10 since September to $64, its highest level since June 2015.
Banxico left Mexico's benchmark interest rate at 3.75% on Thursday, maintaining its neutral tone and indicating that the balance of risks is unchanged for both inflation and growth. Policymakers remain confident that inflation will remain under control over the coming months, below 3%, but noted that they expect a brief increase above the target during Q4.
When trade-weighted sterling fell by 20% in 2016, it was widely expected that net trade would cushion GDP growth from the hit to households' real incomes.
Last week's news that output per hour jumped by 0.9% quarter-on-quarter in Q3--the biggest rise since Q2 2011--has fanned hopes that the underlying trend finally is improving.
The 10.3% year-over-year decline in private new car registrations in April likely is not a sign that the trend in either vehic le sales or consumers' overall spending is taking a turn f or the worse.
Early results suggest that Mr. Macron has comfortably beat Marine Le Pen to become French president, defying a leak of emails and other documents from his En Marche campaign over the weekend. The final results won't be published until Monday morning, but the initial estimate indicates that Mr. Macron will edge Ms. Le Pen by 65.1% to 34.9%.
The sharp 0.4% month-to-month fall in GDP in December and the slump in the Markit/CIPS PMIs towards 50 have created the impression the economy is on the cusp of recession.
The Treasury has tried to dampen expectations for Tuesday's Spring Statement, which has replaced the Autumn Statement since the Budget was moved last year to November.
Demand for German manufacturing goods slipped at the end of Q3. Yesterday's report showed that factory orders fell 0.6% month-to-month in September, constrained by weakness in domestic demand and falling export orders to other EZ economies.
Markets are looking for the ECB to extend QE today, and we think they will get their way. We expect the central bank to prolong the program by six months, to September 2017, and to maintain the pace of monthly purchases at €80B per month.
Sterling was the worst performing G10 currency in 2016 and most analysts anticipate further weakness in 2017. The cost of purchasing downside protection for sterling over the next year also continues to exceed upside protection, as our first chart shows.
The MPC signalled yesterday that it is actively considering a May rate hike, stating that rates likely will "...need to be tightened somewhat earlier and by a somewhat greater degree over the forecast period than anticipated at the time of the November Report".
London has been the U.K.'s growth star for the last two decades. Between 1997 and 2014, yearover-year growth in nominal Gross Value Added averaged 5.4% in London, greatly exceeding the 4% rate across the rest of the country. Surveys since the referendum, however, indicate that the capital is at the sharp end of the post-referendum downturn.
Most investors remain convinced that the MPC will raise Bank Rate when it meets next, on May 10.
The flow of downbeat business surveys continued yesterday, with the release of the Markit/CIPS construction survey.
December's Markit/CIPS surveys for the manufacturing, construction and services sectors suggest that the economy ended 2017 on a lacklustre note.
Some closely-watched composite leading indicators for the U.K. economy, and for many others, are flashing red.
Sterling has begun this year on the front foot, rising last week to its highest level against the U.S. dollar since June 2016.
Markets' expectations for official interest rates have shifted up over the last fortnight, and the consensus view now is that the MPC will hike rates before the end of this year. As our first chart shows, the implied probability of interest rates breaching 0.25% in December 2017 now slightly exceeds 50%.
In the wake of the robust July data and the upward revisions to June, real personal consumption--which accounts for 69% of GDP--appears set to rise by at least 3% in the third quarter, and 3.5% is within reach. To reach 4%, though, spending would have to rise by 0.3% in both August and September, and that will be a real struggle given July's already-elevated auto sales and, especially, overstretched spending on utility energy.
The MPC will take a step forward on Thursday when it publishes an estimate of the medium term equilibrium interest rate--the rate which would anchor real GDP growth at its trend and keep inflation stable--in the Inflation Report.
February's money and credit figures supported recent labour market and retail sales data suggesting that consumers are increasingly financially strained. Households' broad money holdings increased by just 0.2% month-to-month in February, half the average pace of the previous six months.
This Budget will be remembered as the moment when the Government finally threw in the towel on plans to run sustainable public finances.
October's money and credit report indicates that the economy had little momentum at the start of the fourth quarter.
Investors have concluded that Italy's political crisis will compel the U.K. MPC to increase interest rates even more gradually than they thought previously.
The Conservatives' opinion poll rating has fallen dramatically over the last 10 days or so, pushing sterling down and forcing investors to confront the possibility that Theresa May might not increase her majority much from the current paltry 17 MPs.
Last week's preliminary estimate of Q1 GDP has extinguished any lingering chance that the MPC might raise interest rates at its next meeting on May 10.
One of the more disheartening aspects of the Q2 national accounts, released last week, was the downward revision to business investment. Quarteron-quarter growth was revised to -0.7%, from +0.5% previously.
Last week's balance of payments showed that the U.K. has made significant progress in reducing its reliance on overseas finance.
The manufacturing sector appears to have finished 2017 on a strong note. The Markit/CIPS manufacturing PMI fell to 56.3 in December from 58.2 in November, but it remained above its 12-month average, 55.9.
The U.K. economy retained its momentum last year, despite the seismic shock of the vote to leave the EU. Quarter-on-quarter GDP growth averaged 0.5% in the first three quarters of 2016, matching 2015's rate and the average pace of growth across the Atlantic.
The absence of hawkish undertones in the minutes of the MPC's meeting or in the Inflation Report forecasts took markets by surprise yesterday. The dominant view on the Committee remains that the economy will slow over the next couple of years, preventing wage growth from reaching a pace which would put inflation on trac k permanently to exceed the 2% target.
Don't write off the outlook for the construction sector purely on the basis of June's grim Markit/CIPS survey.
Gilts continued to rally last week, with 10-year yields dropping to their lowest since October 2016, and the gap between two-year and 10-year yields narrowing to the smallest margin since September 2008.
Markets are pricing-in just a 10% chance of the MPC cutting interest rates again within the next six months, odds that look too low given the strong likelihood that the economic recovery loses more pace.
Markets were surprised yesterday by the absence of hawkish comments or guidance accompanying the MPC's decision to raise interest rates to 0.50%, from 0.25%.
The MPC restated its commitment to an "ongoing tightening of monetary policy" yesterday, but provided no new guidance to suggest that the next hike is imminent.
The CPIH--the controversial, modified version of the existing CPI that includes a measure of owner occupied housing, or OOH, costs--will become the headline measure of consumer price inflation when February's data are published on March 21.
The big news in the EZ yesterday was the announcement by German chancellor Angela Merkel that she will step down as party leader for CDU later this year, and that she will hand over the chancellorship when her term ends in 2021.
Today's balance of payments figures for the second quarter likely will underline that the U.K. has financed strong growth in domestic consumption by amassing debts with the rest of the world at a breakneck pace.
Sterling's depreciation has done little to remedy the U.K.'s dependence on external finance.
The MPC surprised markets and ourselves yesterday by the extent to which it abandoned its previous stance and is now emphasising inflation over growth risks.
The nosedive in the Markit/CIPS manufacturing PMI in April provides an early sign that GDP growth is likely to slow even further in the second quarter. The MPC, however, looks set to keep its powder dry. We continue to think that the next move in interest rates will be up, towards the end of this year.
January's money supply figures continued the nerve-jangling flow of data on the economy's momentum.
September's Markit/CIPS PMIs indicate that the economy still is stuck in a low gear.
Evidence that the U.K. economy has slowed significantly this year is starting to come in thick and fast. Following the Markit/CIPS manufacturing PMI on Monday --which signalled that growth in production declined in March to its lowest rate since July--the construction PMI dropped to 52.2 in March, from 52.5 in February.
Yesterday's final PMI data added to the evidence that the EZ economy was firing on all cylinders at the end of last year. The composite PMI in the euro area rose to an 11-year high of 58.5 in December, from 57.5 in November, in line with the initial estimate.
November's money and credit figures showed that households increasingly turned to unsecured debt last year in order to maintain rapid growth in consumption. Unsecured borrowing, excluding student loans, rose by £1.7B in November alone, the most since March 2005. This pushed up the year- over-year growth rate of unsecured borrowing to 10.8%--again, the highest rate since 2005--from 10.6% in October.
Private non-financial corporations' profits have held up well over the last two years, despite the net negative impact of sterling's depreciation and modest increases in Bank Rate.
November's Markit/CIPS construction report brings hope that the sector no longer is contracting. The PMI increased to a five-month high of 53.1 in November from 50.8 in October, exceeding the 52-mark that in practice has separated expansion from contraction.
We're relatively optimistic--yes, you read that correctly--on the outlook for the U.K. economy in 2019.
Investors have concluded from June's Markit/CIPS PMIs and Governor Carney's speech on Tuesday that the chance of the MPC cutting Bank Rate before the end of this year now is about 50%, rising to 55% by the time of Mr. Carney's final meeting at the end of January.
The Chancellor's decision immediately to spend all the proceeds from the OBR's upgrade to its projections for tax receipts appears to leave his plans exposed to future adverse revisions to the economic outlook.
On a headline level, last week's European Parliament elections were an excellent occasion for the EU.
June's money and credit figures showed that the economy still doesn't have much zing, even though lending has picked up since Q1.
The Prime Minister achieved a rare victory yesterday, when the Commons passed the government-backed Brady amendment.
The latest Markit/CIPS manufacturing survey has dashed hopes that sterling's depreciation and the pickup in global trade will facilitate strong growth in U.K. production this year. The PMI dropped to 54.2 in March, from 54.6 in February.
All the main surveys of business activity in Q1 now have been released and they present a uniformly downbeat picture.
In trade-weighted terms, sterling finished 2017 just 1% higher than at the start of the year, reversing little of 2016's 14% drop.
A cluster of surveys suggest that the manufacturing sector finished 2016 with a flourish, after a dismal performance for most of the year. But momentum will drain away from the sector's recovery in 2017, as higher oil prices make low value-added work unprofitable again and resurgent inflation causes domestic consumer demand to crumble.
The recovery in the Markit/CIPS manufacturing PMI to 53.1 in November, from 51.1 in October, propelled it well above the consensus, and the equivalent reading for the Eurozone, 51.8, for only the second time in the last 19 months.
Markets still see a near-40% chance of the MPC raising Bank Rate by the end of this year--the same as at the start of this week--despite the notable absence of comments from the Committee yesterday aimed at preparing the ground for a near term hike.
Sunday's referendum on independence in Catalonia is a wild-card. The central government has taken drastic steps to ensure that a vote doesn't happen.
April's labour market data show that slack in the job market is no longer declining, while wage growth still isn't recovering. As a result, we no longer think that the MPC will raise Bank Rate in August and now expect the Committee to stand pat until the first half of 2019.
Q2's GDP figures create a terrible first impression, but a closer look suggests that the risk of a recession remains very low.
Markets rightly interpreted yesterday's above consensus GDP report as having little impact on the outlook for monetary policy.
The key question for the MPC at this week's meeting is whether it is prepared to tolerate the consequences for inflation of sterling's further depreciation since its last meeting in August.
Gilt yields have collapsed this year, aided by a surge in safe-haven demand, the much lower outlook for overnight interest rates and the resumption of QE. Bond yields also have fallen globally, but the drop in the ten-year gilt yields to a record low of 0.53%, from nearly 2% at the beginning of 2016, has greatly exceeded the declines elsewhere, as our first chart shows.
Apart from a slew of economic data--see here and here--two important things happened in Germany last week.
Predictably, last weekend's G7 meeting in Canada ended in acrimony between the U.S. and its key trading partners.
Yesterday's industrial production, construction output and trade data for November collectively suggest that the economy lost a little momentum in the fourth quarter. GDP growth likely slowed to 0.5% quarter-on-quarter in Q4, from 0.6% in Q3. Growth remains set to slow further this year, as inflation shoots up and constrains consumers.
On the face of it, the latest GDP data look awful. December's 0.4% month-to-month fall in GDP closed a poor Q4, in which quar ter-on-quarter growth slowed to 0.2%, from 0.6% in Q3.
The seasonally adjusted trade surplus in Germany slipped to €19.6B in July, from €21.2B in June, its lowest since April, and we are confident that it has peaked for this cycle.
If sustained, sterling's recent depreciation looks set to drive CPI inflation up to about 3.5% by the end of next year.
Today's labour market data look set to show that the headline, three-month average, unemployment rate held steady at just 5% in May, unchanged from April's reading.
April's GDP data give a grim firs t impression, though the details provide reassurance that the economy isn't on the cusp of a recession.
The economy looks to be in better shape following May's GDP report than widely feared.
The MPC went against the grain last month by forecasting that CPI inflation would overshoot the 2% target if it raised Bank Rate as slowly as markets anticipated.
Gilt yields have been remarkably stable following their decline in response to the Bank of England's Inflation Report in February. The average 60-day price volatility of gilts with outstanding maturities of greater than one year has fallen back recently to lows last seen in 2014, as our first chart shows.
The stagnation of GDP in August, following five consecutive month-to-month gains, confirms that the economy's momentum in prior months was simply weather-related.
After wobbling immediately after the referendum, house prices appear to be back on a rising trajectory. The Halifax measure of house prices, which is based on the lenders' mortgage offers, rose by 1.4% month-to-month in October, following a 0.3% increase in September.
The popular belief that economists rarely agree about anything is reinforced by the extremely wide dispersion of forecasts for March industrial production. The forecasts range from the wildly optimistic prediction of a 1.9% month-to-month rise, to a downright miserable 0.3% decline. We think production rose by about 0.5% month-to-month, and this likely will be interpreted as a decent result, following the recent run of bad news.
Last week's official data supported our forecast that GDP growth likely will slow further in Q1, suggesting that a May rate hike is not the sure bet that markets assume.
Mrs. May looks set to lose the second "meaningful vote" on the Withdrawal Agreement-- WA--today, whether she decides on a straightforward vote or one asking MPs to b ack it if some hypothetical concessions are achieved.
The collapse in gilt yields last week--including a drop to a record low at the 10-year maturity--appears to be an ominous sign for the economic outlook. For now, though, the yield curve signals a further easing of GDP growth, rather than a spiral into recession. Low liquidity also means modest changes in demand are generating large movements in yields, undermining gilts' usefulness as a leading indicator.
Inflation in Germany rebounded last month, rising to plus 0.1% year-over-year in May, from minus 0.1% in April. We think the economy has escaped the claws of deflation, for now. Household energy prices fell 5.7% year-over-year in May, up from a 6.3% decline in April, and the rate will rise further. Base effects and higher oil prices point to a surge in energy inflation in the next three-to-six months.
Markets are still discounting Banxico rate increases in the near term, despite the fact that Mexico's inflation is under control. Unless the MXN goes significantly above 18.7 per USD in the near term, or activity accelerates, we see little scope for rate increases until after the Fed hikes. After May's soft U.S. payrolls, and in light of the economic and financial risk posed by the U.K. referendum, we think a hike this week is unlikely.
Germany's external surplus remained resilient at the start of the year. Data on Friday showed that the seasonally adjusted trade surplus rose marginally to €18.5B in January, from a revised €18.3B in December.
Today's labour market report likely will show that employment continued to grow briskly over the summer, but that wage gains still are lagging well behind inflation.
Data yesterday showed that industrial production in the Eurozone stumbled in May. Production fell 1.2% month-to-month, driven by weakness in all major economies and falling output in all sub-industries. The poor headline follows an upwardly revised 1.4% jump in April, which means that production rose marginally in the first two months of the second quarter.
The consensus for a mere 0.3% month-to-month rise in retail sales volumes in November looks too timid; we anticipate a 0.7% gain.
Sterling held on to its recent gains yesterday despite mounting speculation that Eurosceptic Conservative MPs are plotting a leadership challenge.
Suggestions that the U.K. government might choose to hold a second referendum have been constantly rebuffed by the Prime Minister.
Friday's economic data added to the evidence that the German economy stumbled in July. The seasonally adjusted trade surplus slipped to €19.4B, from a revised €21.4B in June.
It often is argued that the MPC will raise interest rates in November--even if the economic data are not pressuring the Committee to tighten--because markets would go into a tailspin if the MPC failed to meet their expectations.
September's GDP report laid bare the economy's sluggishness.
The renewed decline in bond EZ bond yields has raised the question of whether inflation expectations will recover at all in this cycle. We think they will, and we also believe 10-year yields will rise towards 1%-to-1.2% towards the end of the year. But two factors will keep inflation expectations and yields in check in the near term.
Long-standing readers will know that we have been downbeat on the potential for net external trade to boost the economy following sterling's 2016 depreciation.
The euro's spectacular rise against the pound has been the key story in European FX markets recently. But the trade-weighted euro, however, is up "only" 6% year-to-date, as a result of the relatively stable EURUSD.
It's tempting to conclude that the pick-up in year over-year growth in average weekly wages, excluding bonuses, to a three-year high of 3.1% in July, from 2.8% in June, signals that employees' bargaining power has strengthened and that a sustained wage recovery now is under way.
The Monetary Policy Committee likely will not follow up August's stimulus measures with another rate cut at its meeting on Thursday. The partial revival in surveys of activity and confidence have weakened the case for immediate action.
Gilt yields have risen sharply over the last month, even though the Monetary Policy Committee is just one-third of the way through the £60B bond purchase programme announced in August. Government bond yields in other G7 economies also have increased, but not as much as in Britain.
May's labour market figures, released on Wednesday, likely will have something for both the doves and the hawks on the MPC , who have been wrangling over whether to reverse last year's rate cut.
The German trade surplus increased slightly in May, following weakness in the beginning of spring. The seasonally adjusted surplus rose to €20.3B in May, from €19.7B in April; it was lifted by a 1.4% month-to-month jump in exports, which offset a 1.2% rise imports.
Economy-wide confidence deteriorated in November, highlighting that Britain continues to struggle to shake off its malaise.
We're inclined to place little weight on July's E.C. Economic Sentiment Survey, which showed that consumers' confidence has picked up to its highest level since October 2016; see our first chart.
Investors currently think that official interest rates are more likely to fall than rise this year. Overnight index swap markets are factoring in a 30% chance of a rate cut by December, but just a 1% chance of an increase by year-end. The case for expecting looser monetary policy, however, remains unconvincing.
December's money data brought clear signs that the economy's growth spurt in the second half of 2016 is about to come to an abrupt end. Growth in households' money holdings and borrowing slowed sharply in December, and the pick-up in corporate borrowing shortly after the MPC cut interest rates and announced corporate bond purchases, in August, has run out of steam already.
It's tempting to conclude from the recent decline in consumers' confidence that growth in real spending will continue to weaken over the coming quarters, from the already modest 1.8% year-over-year rate in Q3.
Sterling's fall yesterday to $1.45 from $1.46 after the release of online and phone opinion polls from ICM both showing a three percentage point lead for "Leave" over "Remain" underlines that it not a formality that the U.K. will be a full member of the E.U. this time next month.
Mark Carney's assertion that "...some monetary policy easing will likely be required over the summer" is a clear signal that an interest rate cut is in the pipeline. But easing likely will be modest, due to the much higher outlook for inflation following sterling's precipitous decline.
It's probably safe to assume that Q1's 0.5% quarter-on-quarter increase in GDP will be as good as it gets this year.
Yesterday's German factory orders data suggest that manufacturing remained weak in the beginning of Q1. New orders fell 0.1% month-to-month in January, though the year-over-year rate rose to 1.1% from a revised -2.2% in December. The small monthly decline was due to a fall in domestic orders; this offset an increase in export orders to other Eurozone economies.
Yesterday's German factory orders report showed that manufacturing activity accelerated in August. New orders rose 1.0% month-to-month, after a 0.3% increase in July, pushing the year-over-year rate up to +2.1% from a revised -0.6%.
The chances of a cut in official interest rates were boosted yesterday by the sharp fall in the business activity index of the Markit/CIPS report on services in February, to its weakest level since April 2013. Its decline, to just 52.8 from 55.6 in January, mirrored falls in the manufacturing and construction PMIs earlier in the week and pushed the weighted average of the three survey's main balances down to a level consistent with quarter-on-quarter GDP growth of just 0.2% in Q1.
The revival in the construction sector is slowing on all fronts as the fiscal squeeze intensifies, business confidence fades and the recovery in housebuilding loses momentum. These headwinds are likely to ensure that construction output only holds steady this year, thereby contributing to the broader economic slowdown.
Business investment has been resilient to the slowdown in the wider economy so far, with year-over-year growth in the first three quarters of 2015 averaging a very respectable 6.2%. Outside the oil sector, firms are generating healthy profits and can borrow cheaply.
The odds of the MPC cutting interest rates again in November took another knock yesterday after further signs that the manufacturing sector is getting back on its feet quickly.
Yesterday's survey data tell a story of resilient manufacturing in the Eurozone. The headline EZ PMI rose to 52.6 in September, from 51.7 in August, lifted by a rise in new orders to a three-month high.
The consensus view that industrial production rose by a mere 0.1% month-to-month in August looks far too low; we expect today's report to reveal a jump of about 1%.
September's Markit/CIPS services survey added to the evidence indicating that GDP growth softened, rather than fell off a cliff, in the third quarter. The activity index edged down only to 52.6, from 52.9 in August.
Promises of new money to facilitate construction on public sector land from the Chancellor and the pick-up in the construction PMI have fostered optimism that the sector's downturn is over.
Sterling fell to $1.38, from $1.39, in the hour following the EU's publication of a draft Article 50 withdrawal treaty, which set out the practical consequences of the principles the U.K. agreed to in December.
The MPC's new inflation forecasts usually take centre stage on "Super Thursday" and provide a numerical indication of how close the Committee is to raising interest rates again.
The euro has been one of the main "beneficiaries" of the pound's relentless decline, which took on ridiculous dimensions as the GBP crashed almost 10% in the early hours of Friday. EURGBP briefly touched 0.94, before settling at 0.9, up just shy of 30% since November.
The economy's recovery from the 2008/09 recession has been weaker than after the previous two downturns partly because households have not depleted housing equity to fund consumption.
September's industrial production figures likely will not surprise markets today. We look for a 0.3% month-to-month rise in production, matching the consensus and the ONS assumption in the preliminary estimate of Q3 GDP.
The economy has remained remarkably resilient in the face of intense political uncertainty.
German exports flatlined for most of 2018, driving the trade surplus down by 7.3% amid still-solid growth in imports.
Economic data in the euro area are still slipping and sliding.
Yesterday's deluge of output and trade data broadly supported our call that quarter-on-quarter GDP growth likely slowed to 0.3% in Q4, from 0.4% in Q3.
A year has now elapsed since sterling began its precipitous descent, and the trade data still have not improved. Net trade subtracted 0.9 percentage points from year-over-year growth in GDP in Q3. And while the trade deficit of £2.0B in October was the smallest since May, this followed extraordinarily large deficits in the previous two months. In fact, the trade deficit has been on a slightly deteriorating trend over the last year, as our first chart shows, and we expect today's data to show that the deficit re-widened to about £3.5B in November.
New business in German manufacturing ended the first quarter on a strong note. Factory orders rose 1.9% month-to-month in March, above the consensus 0.6%, and net revisions to the February data were +0.4 percentage points. The rise in new orders was exclusively due to a 4.3% increase in export orders, which offset a 1.2% fall in domestic orders. These are strong numbers, but the details suggest that mean reversion will push the headline down next month.
April's Retail Sales Monitor from the British Chambers of Commerce, released yesterday, provided a powerful signal that households' spending rebounded in April, following a terrible Q1.
Unless it blinks and delays, the government is on course for a hefty defeat on Tuesday, when it asks parliament to vote to approve the Withdrawal Agreement--WA--and Political Declaration.
Surveys released over the last week have suggested that the housing market might be past the worst.
Our view that households will continue to spend more in the first half of this year, preventing the economy from slipping into a capex-led recession, was not seriously challenged yesterday by the BRC's Retail Sales Monitor.
It's hardly surprising that the consensus forecast for month-to-month growth in November GDP, released on Friday, is a mere 0.1%, given the flow of downbeat business surveys.
The pound can't get a break. Sterling fell to just $1.24 yesterday, its lowest level against the dollar since March 2017, bar the momentary "flash crash" in January.
Amid the intensifying debate about the pros and cons of E.U. membership, higher immigration from the rest of Europe often is blamed for the disappointing weakness of wage growth over the last couple of years. But we see little evidence to support that hypothesis.
Interest rate expectations continued to fall sharply last week.
CPI inflation increased to 2.9% in May, from 2.7% in April, exceeding the no-change expectation of both the consensus and the MPC, as well as our own 2.8% forecast.
The 20K increase in February payrolls is not remotely indicative of the underlying trend, and we see no reason to expect similar numbers over the next few months.
Talks between the EU and the U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron are expected to culminate with a deal today, but we doubt this week's summit will be the final word. A detailed re-negotiation of the U.K.'s relationship with the EU is the last thing the large continental economies need at the moment.
House prices are on course to rise only by around 2% this year, the smallest increase for five years.
Inflation pressures in the Eurozone nudged higher last month. Friday's final CPI report showed that inflation rose to 0.6% year-over-year in November, from 0.5% in October, in line with the initial estimate. The food, alcohol and tobacco component was the key driver of the increase.
The RICS Residential Market Survey caught our eye last week for reporting that new sale instructions to estate agents rose in May for the first month since February 2016.
We doubt there will ever be a fail-safe leading indicator of when a recession is about to hit, but asset prices can help us to assess the risks, at least.
It's been a sobering couple of months in the Eurozone economy.
Sterling took another pounding last week. Resignations from the Cabinet, protests by the DUP, and the public submission of letters by 21 MPs calling for a confidence vote in Mrs. May's leadership, imply that parliament won't ratify the current versions of the Withdrawal Agreement and the Political Declaration on the future relationship with the E.U. next month.
A Reuters interview yesterday with ECB governing council member Benoît Coeuré cemented expectations that the ECB will adjust its language on forward guidance next month.
Prime Minister Theresa May's announcement that Parliament will vote today on holding a general election on June 8 shocked markets and even her own party's MPs. Betting markets were pricing in only a 20% chance of a 2017 election before yesterday's news.
We expect May's consumer prices report, released on Wednesday, to show that CPI inflation fell to 2.0% in May, from 2.1% in April.
CPI inflation has undershot the consensus forecast six times this year, but surprised to the upside only twice.
The euro area's external surplus dipped at the start of Q4.
It's easy to claim from yesterday's labour market data that the economy is weathering the uncertainty caused by the E.U. referendum. Employment rose by 172K, or 0.5%, between Q1 and Q2, and the claimant count fell by 7K month-to-month in July. These numbers, however, flatter to deceive.
We became more confident last week in our call that GDP growth will hold up better than widely feared in the first half of 2019, following signs that consumers have maintained their happy-go-lucky mentality, despite the ongoing political crisis.
The consensus forecast for retail sales in December has been consistently too upbeat in recent years and we think most analysts are too sanguine yet again.
Markets currently see a 50/50 chance that the MPC will raise Bank Rate in August and will be looking for a strong signal on Thursday that the next meeting is "in play".
The headline rate of CPI inflation held steady at the 2% target in June, in line with the consensus and the MPC's Inflation Report forecast.
No subject in the EZ economy is a source of more dispute than Germany's ballooning current account surplus. The Economist recently identified he German surplus as a problem for the world economy.
Retail sales fell back to earth in September, indicating that the pick-up in spending over the summer largely was a weather-related blip.
For the record, we think the Fed should raise rates in December, given the long lags in monetary policy and the clear strength in the economy, especially the labor market, evident in the pre-hurricane data.
The possibility of a Corbyn-led Labour Government has been highlighted by some analysts as a major economic risk. Mr. Corbyn, however, has little practical chance of being elected soon.
Markets tend to ignore Eurozone construction data, but we suspect today's report will be an exception to that rule. Our first chart shows that we're forecasting a 8.5% month-to-month leap in February EZ construction output, and we also expect an upward revision to January's numbers.
On the face of it, the rebound in the manufacturing PMI, to 53.3 in August from 48.3 in July, directly challenges our view that the economy is set to slow sharply over the coming quarters. A close look at the survey, however, suggests that the manufacturing PMI exaggerates the extent of the sector's recovery in August.
CPI inflation fell to 2.3% in November--its lowest rate since March 2017--from 2.4% in October, and it remains on track to fall rapidly over the winter.
Elections will be held on Thursday in two constituencies vacated recently by Labour MPs. Betting markets are pricing-in a 70% chance that the Conservatives will win the by-election in Copeland--even though they trailed Labour there by eight points in the general election in 2015--mainly because around 60% of Copeland's electorate voted to leave the EU last year.
June's 0.5% month-to-month fall in retail sales volumes does little to change the picture of recent strength.
EURUSD has been battered in recent months, falling just over 6% since the end of April, but almost all indicators we look at suggest that the it will weake further towards 1.10, in the second half of the year.
As expected, the Chancellor kept his powder dry in the Spring Statement, preferring instead to wait for the Budget in the autumn to deploy the funds technically available to him to support the economy.
August's money and credit figures show that households' incomes remain under pressure, indicating that the recent pick-up in growth in consumers' spending likely won't last.
The Fed yesterday acknowledged clearly the new economic information of recent months, namely, that first quarter GDP growth was "solid", with Chair Powell noting that it was stronger than most forecasters expected.
The manufacturing sector appears to have started the new year on a weaker note. The Markit/CIPS manufacturing PMI dropped to 55.3 in January--its lowest level since June--from 56.2 in December.
On the face of it, British manufacturers are weathering the global slowdown well. The Markit/CIPS PMI jumped to 55.1 in March, from 52.1 in February, and now comfortably exceeds those for the Eurozone, U.S. and Japan.
The Fed's strategic view of the economy and policy has not changed since last December, when it first said that "The Committee expects that economic conditions will evolve in a manner that will warrant only gradual increases in the federal funds rate; the federal funds rate is likely to remain, for some time, below levels that are expected to prevail in the longer run.
The economy slowed less than we expected in 2017.
The economy's fragility was underlined by the Q3 national accounts, released just before the Christmas break.
GDP growth currently is subdued by historical standards, but at least it is not debt-fuelled.
Sterling continued to recover last week, hitting its highest level against the dollar since October, despite a series of data releases indicating that the economy is losing momentum. Indeed, sterling was unscathed by the news on Friday that quarter-on-quarter GDP growth slowed to just 0.3% in Q1, from 0.7% in Q4.
The odds of a hike this month have increased in recent days, though the chance probably is not as high as the 82% implied by the fed funds future. The arguments against a March hike are that GDP growth seems likely to be very sluggish in Q1, following a sub-2% Q4, and that a hike this month would be seen as a political act.
One of the most eye-catching features of the U.K.'s economic recovery has been the strength of job creation. It took seven-to-eight years for employment to return to its pre-recession peaks after the recessions of the early 1980s and 1990s. By contrast, employment rescaled its 2008 peak in mid-2012, and it has risen by a further 6% since.
The imminent boost to lending rates from the shut- down of the Term Funding Scheme at the end of this month is widely under-appreciated.
The Chancellor has prepared the public and the markets for a ratcheting-up of the already severe austerity plans in the Budget on Wednesday. George Osborne warned on Sunday that he would announce "...additional savings, equivalent to 50p in every £100 the government spends by the end of the decade", raising an extra £4B a year.
We expect the Fed to leave rates on hold today, but the FOMC's new forecasts likely will continue to show policymakers expect two hikes this year, unchanged from the March projections. We remain of the view that September is the more likely date for the next hike, because we think sluggish June payrolls will prevent action in July.
Industrial data released this week showed that the Mexican economy stumbled during the second quarter. Private consumption, however, continues to rise, albeit at a more modest pace than in recent months. The ANTAD same store sales survey rose 5.3% year-over-year in June, up from 2.8% in May, but this is misleading.
LatAm assets did well in Q1, on the back of upbeat investor risk sentiment, low volatility in developed markets and a relatively benign USD.
CPI inflation held steady at 2.4% in October, undershooting the 2.5% consensus expectation and the MPC's forecast in this month's Inflation Report.
Yesterday's labour market data delivered a further blow to hopes that consumers' spending will retain enough momentum for the MPC to press ahead and raise interest rates this year. The most striking development is the decline in year-over-year growth in average weekly wages to just 1.9% in December, from 2.9% in November.
Yesterday's State of the Union address by EC president Jean-Claude Juncker commanded more attention than usual, but contained little news on the key talking points for investors.
Investors face a busy EZ calendar today, but the second estimate of Q3 GDP, and the advance GDP data in Germany, likely will receive most attention. Yesterday's industrial production report in the Eurozone was soft, but it won't force a downward GDP revision, as we had feared.
We are pushing back our forecast for the next rise in Bank Rate to May 2020, from the tail-end of this year.
The MPC chose not to rock the boat yesterday, deferring any reappraisal of the economic outlook until its next meeting in early February.
Expectations are running high that the Autumn Statement on November 23 will mark the beginning of a more active role for fiscal policy in stimulating the economy. The MPC's abandonment of its former easing bias earlier this month has put the stimulus ball firmly in the new Chancellor's court.
Data on Friday showed that the upturn in French manufacturing petered out at the end of Q1.
We expect August's consumer price figures, released on Wednesday, to show that CPI inflation declined to 2.4%, from 2.5% in July, matching the consensus and the Bank of England's forecast.
The MPC surprised nobody yesterday by voting unanimously to keep Bank Rate at 0.75% and to maintain the stocks of gilt and corporate bond purchases at £435B and £10B, respectively.
The minutes of yesterday's MPC meeting indicate that it is not going to be panicked into cutting interest rates in the run-up to the E.U. referendum in June. The Committee voted unanimously again to keep Bank Rate at 0.5%, and dovish comments were conspicuously absent.
Last week, Banxico, the BCCh and the BCRP all left their reference rates on hold. Their currencies have remained relatively stable in recent months and inflation pressures are under control. In Mexico, Banxico has adopted a more discretionary approach, following two 50bp hikes this year.
Let's be clear: The July retail sales numbers do not mean the consumer is rolling over, and the PPI numbers do not mean that disinflation pressure is intensifying. We argued in the Monitor last Friday, ahead of the sales data, that the 4.2% surge in second quarter consumption--likely to be revised up slightly--could not last, and the relative sluggishness of the July core retail sales numbers is part of the necessary correction. Headline sales were depressed by falling gasoline prices, which subtracted 0.2%.
Swap markets currently price-in RPI inflation falling to 3.0% this time next year, from 3.2% in November, before recovering to 3.8% at the start of 2020.
The stand-out development in yesterday's labour market report was the drop in the he adline, three-month average, unemployment rate to just 4.0% in June--its lowest rate since February 1975--from 4.2% in May.
Sharp increases in retail sales over the last two months suggest that consumers are not overly concerned by the risk that the U.K. could leave the E.U. next week. Sales volumes rose 0.9% month-on-month in May, and April's surge was revised larger, to 1.9% from 1.3%.
The MPC almost certainly will keep interest rates on hold today and likely won't give a strong steer on the outlook for policy in the minutes of its meeting, which are released at mid-day. On the whole, surveys of economic activity have been weak, indicating that GDP growth has slowed sharply in the second quarter.
The MPC will have to issue fresh, dovish guidance in order to satisfy markets on Thursday, which now think the Committee is more likely to cut than raise Bank Rate within the next six months.
The jump in CPI inflation to 2.7% in April, from 2.3% in March, was only partly to a temporary boost from the later timing of Easter this year. Indeed, inflation likely will rise further over the coming months as food, energy and core goods prices all continue to pick up in response to last year's depreciation of sterling.
Market-implied expectations of negative rates through 2021, and bund yields plunging below -0.1%, are an accident waiting to happen, but the main story is clear as rain.
Yesterday's sole economic report showed that the Eurozone's external surplus recovered ground over the summer, but we don't think the rebound will last long.
The winds of global politics are changing, and the major Eurozone countries could be forced to take heed. Donald Trump's foreign policy position remains highly uncertain. Our Chief Economist, Ian Shepherdson, expects the U.S. to increase defence spending next year; see the U.S. Monitor of October 20.
Data today likely will show that the seasonally adjusted trade surplus in the Eurozone jumped to €23.0B in March, from €20.2B in February. The headline was boosted, though, by sharp month-to-month falls in German and French imports, partly due to the early Easter.
The euro area's trade surplus slipped further mid- way through the second quarter; falling to a 15-month low of €16.9B in May, from a downwardly-revised €18.0B in April, and extending its descent from last year's peak of nearly €24.0B.
Growth in new EZ car sales remained brisk last month, growth slowed in Q3. New registrations rose 9.4% year-over-year in September, marginally lower than the 9.6% increase in August. Growth in France fell most, sliding to 2.5% from 6.7% in August, but sales in Germany picked up to 9.4%, from 8.3%.
Former Chancellor George Osborne famously quipped after last year's general election that Theresa May was "a dead woman walking and the only question is how long she remains on death row".
It's now four weeks since the Prime Minister called a snap general election, and the Conservatives still are riding high in the opinion polls. The average of the last 10 polls suggests that the Tories are on track to take 47% of the vote, well above Labour's 30%.
Yesterday's labour market data significantly bolster the consensus view on the MPC that interest rates do not need to rise this year to counter the imminent burst of inflation. Granted, the headline, three-month average, unemployment rate fell to 4.7% in January--its lowest rate since August 1975--from 4.8% in December, defying the consensus forecast for no-change.
We have not been expecting the Fed to raise rates next week, and yesterday's data made a hike even less likely. The September Philly Fed and Empire State surveys were alarmingly weak everywhere except the headline level, and the official August production data were grim.
Even if the Prime Minister fends off an emerging leadership challenge--as we write, the rebels still are short of the 48 signatures required to trigger a confidence vote--her chances of getting parliament to back the Withdrawal Agreement in its current form are slim.
When the MPC last met, on November 2, it attempted to persuade markets that Bank Rate would need to rise three times over the next three years to keep inflation close to the 2% target.
The most eye-catching aspect of December's consumer prices report was the pick-up in core inflation to 1.9%, from 1.8% in November, above the no-change consensus.
The Mexican labor market has remained relatively healthy in recent months, despite many external and domestic headwinds. Formal employment has increased by 2.1% year-to-date and by 3½% in the year to July, according to the Mexican Social Security Institute.
Chief U.K. Economist Samuel Tombs on U.K. House Prices
Chief Eurozone Economist Claus Vistesen on Eurozone Industrial Production
Chief U.K. Economist Samuel Tombs discussing U.K. GDP
Chief U.K. Economist Samuel Tombs on the U.K PMIs
Senior International Economist Andres Abadia on Latam currency risks.
Chief U.K. Economist Samuel Tombs on U.K. Mortgage Approvals
U.K. H1 2019 Outlook
Signs of a slowdown in the labour market data are conspicuously absent.
Friday's July PMI reports presented investors with a rather confusing story. The composite PMI in the Eurozone fell trivially to 52.9 in July, from 53.1 in June, despite rising PMIs in Germany and France. The final data on 3 August will give the full story, but Markit noted that private sector growth outside the core slowed to its weakest pace since December 2014.
Chief U.K. Economist Samuel Tombs on the U.K. Halifax House Price Index in December
Yesterday's ZEW investor sentiment in Germany shows showed no signs that uncertainty over the U.K. referendum is taking its toll on EZ investors. The expectations index surged to 19.2 in June, from 6.4 in May, the biggest month-to-month jump since January last year, when investors were eagerly expecting the ECB's QE announcement.
The CBI's Industrial Trends Survey, for July and Q3, supplied encouraging evidence yesterday that the manufacturing upswing still has momentum.
Inflation and Brexit risks will subdue growth.....Policy action won't prevent a slowdown
Chief Eurozone Economist Samuel Tombs on Brexit
Rates On Hold Until After the Brexit Deadline...But Two Hikes Likely in 2019, When Capex Rebounds
Today's figures likely will bring the first real signs that the Brexit vote has had an adverse impact on the labour market. The employment balances of the key private-sector surveys weakened sharply in July, and recovered only partially in August. In addition, the three-month average level of job vacancies fell by 7K between April and July.
Household spending has been the sole source of growth in the economy so far this year, amid worsening investment and net trade. Today's official retail sales figures, however, look set to show that consumers suffered the Brexit blues in June.
It would be a serious mistake to conclude from July's retail sales figures that consumers' spending will be immune to the fallout of the Brexit vote. Households have yet to endure the hiring freeze and pay squeeze indicated by surveys of employers, or the price surge signalled by sterling's sharp depreciation. The real test for consumers' spending lies ahead.
Yesterday's labour market figures revealed that employment growth has picked up this year, despite the shadow cast over the medium-term economic outlook by Brexit. The 122K, or 0.4%, quarter-on-quarter rise in employment in Q1 was the biggest since Q2 2016.
Equity prices for U.K. retailers have performed woefully since the E.U. referendum. The FTSE All-Share Index for general retailers has underperformed the overall All-Share Index by nearly 30% since the Brexit vote.
Reviving Capex and Fiscal Policy to Lift Growth...Provided Parliament Averts a No-Deal Brexit
Brexit risk currently is only depressing Capex....Rates need to rise to contain wage cost pressures
Brexit and fiscal headwinds have lessended...but consumers' spending will struggle in 2018
Brexit Risk Currently Is Only Depressing Capex...Rates Will Rise Soon To Contain Wage Cost Pressures
The two polls suggesting the U.K. would remain in the EU yesterday proved to be a noose for investors to hang themselves with, as the results pointed to a vote for Brexit. Markets already are in disarray, and the direction is as we expected and feared. EUR/GBP is up 7%, and the DAX 30 in Germany is indicated by futures to plunge a hefty 7%-to-8% at the open. Bund yields will collapse too, and all eyes will be on the spread between Germany and the rest of the periphery.
Brexit Risk Increasingly is Hitting the Economy...But Above-Trend Growth Awaits After a Deal is Done
A No-Deal Brexit Remains an Unlikely Outcome...Growth will Recover in H2, Facilitating Rate Hike
A no-deal brexit remains an unlikely outcome...An October extension will prodive a rate hike window
Households' Spending Will Retain Momentum in H2...Another Brexit Extension Remains Likely in October
A Soft Brexit Remains The Most Likely Outcome....So The MPC Soon Up The Pace Of Tightening
No end to the brexit paralysis in sight...but growth will remain strong enough for rate hikes
In one line: Payback for the Brexit-related surge in Q1.
The Chancellor's Autumn Statement dashed hopes that the fiscal consolidation will be paused while the economy struggles to adjust to the implications of Brexit. Admittedly, Mr. Hammond has another opportunity in the Spring Budget to reduce next year's fiscal tightening.
Will Brexit Puncture the MPC's Tightening Cycle?
In one line: Work is continuing to dry up as no-deal Brexit risk mounts.
In one line: Brexit uncertainty is still hurting, but a boost from lower borrowing costs is coming.
In one line: Brexit preparations provide a temporary fillip to manufacturing.
In one line: Consistent with the economy retaining momentum ahead of the Brexit deadline.
The MPC won't be passive next year...Brexit permitting
In one line: Households showing little sign of pre-Brexit jitters.
In one line: Consumers are showing little anxiety in the run-up to Brexit.
In one line: The Brexit extension brings some relief.
The adverse consequences of the Brexit vote will become painfully clear in 2017.....
In one line: Consumers are defiantly optimistic, despite the Brexit saga.
In one line: Drop almost entirely due to a reversal of the pre-Brexit stockpiling boost.
July's money and credit figures provided more evidence that firms have become reluctant to invest following the Brexit vote. Lending by U.K. banks to private non-financial companies--PNFCs--rose by just 0.2% month-to-month in July, below the average 0.5% increase of the previous six months.
Evidence that mounting concerns about Brexit have caused the economy to slow to a near-halt continued to accumulate last week.
October's money data show that households and firms have regained the appetite for borrowing that they lost immediately after the referendum. But the recent rise in swap rates and the deterioration in consumers' confidence likely will cut short the revival in consumer lending, while persistent Brexit uncertainty likely will continue to subdue firms' investment intentions.
We see only a small risk today of the MPC raising interest rates or sending a strong signal that a hike is imminent, for the reasons we set out in our preview of the meeting. The MPC, however, also must decide today whether to wind up the Term Funding Scheme-- TFS--launched a year ago as part of its post-Brexit stimulus measures.
The preliminary estimate of GDP showed that the economy finished 2016 on a strong note. Output increased by 0.6% quarter-on-quarter, the same rate as in the previous two quarters. The year-over-year growth rate of GDP in 2016 as a whole--2.0%--was low by pre-crisis standards, but it likely puts the U.K. at the top of the G7 growth leaderboard. We cannot tell how well the economy would have performed had the U.K. not voted to leave the EU in June, but clearly the threat of Brexit has not loomed large over the economy.
The presumption in markets is that the French presidential election is the last hurdle to be overcome in the EZ economy. As long as Marine Le Pen is kept out of l'Élysée, animal spirits will be released in the economy and financial markets. We concede that a Le Pen victory would result in chaos, at least in the short run. Bond spreads would widen, equities would crash and the euro would plummet. But we also suspect that such volatility would be short-lived, similar to the convulsions after Brexit.
In one line: Probably still artificially low due to the original Brexit deadline.
In one line: Still dormant, despite the Brexit delay.
In one line: Pronounced weakness in Q2 likely a consequence of the original Brexit deadline.
In one line: A worrying step change in the impact of Brexit uncertainty.
In one line: A no-deal Brexit remains an unlikely outcome, even with a "true" Brexiteer PM.
Samuel Tombs has more than a decade of experience covering the U.K. economy for investors. At Pantheon, Samuel's research is rigorous, free of dogma and jargon, and unafraid to challenge consensus views. His work focuses on what matters to professional investors: The links between the real economy, monetary policy and asset prices. He has a strong track record of getting the big calls right. The Sunday Times ranked Samuel as the most accurate forecaster of the U.K. economy in both 2014 and 2018. In addition, Bloomberg consistently has ranked Samuel as one of the top three U.K. forecasters, out of pool of 35 economists, throughout 2018 and 2019. His in-depth knowledge of market-moving data and his forensic forecasting approach explain why he consistently beats the consensus. Samuel's work on Brexit goes beyond simply reporting developments and is always analytical and unbiased, enabling investors to see through the noise of the daily headlines. While his analysis points to a particular path that politicians will take, he acknowledges the inherent uncertainty and draws out the economic and financial market implications of all plausible Brexit scenarios. Samuel holds an MSc in Economics from Birkbeck College, University of London and an undergraduate degree in History and Economics from the University of Oxford. Prior to joining Pantheon in 2015, he was Senior U.K. Economist at Capital Economics. In 2011, Samuel won the Society of Business Economists' prestigious Rybczynski Prize for an article on quantitative easing in the UK. He is based in London but frequently visits our other offices. Recent key calls include: 2018 - Correctly forecast that GDP growth would slow and inflation would undershoot the MPC's initial forecast, prompting the Committee to shock investors and almost other economists by waiting until August to raise Bank Rate, rather than pressing ahead in May. 2017 - Argued that the MPC was wrong to expect CPI inflation to stay below 3% following sterling's depreciation. He also highlighted that economic indicators pointed to the Conservatives losing their outright majority in the snap general election.
Chief U.K. Economist Ian Shepherdson on Brexit risk to a June rate hike
The Chancellor is likely to announce plans for additional public sector asset sales in today's Autumn Statement, to help arrest the unanticipated rise in the debt-to-GDP ratio this year. But privatisations rarely improve the underlying health of the public finances, partly because assets seldom are sold for their full value. And the Chancellor is running out of viable assets to privatise; the low-hanging, juiciest fruits have already been plucked.
Chief Eurozone Economist Claus Vistesen on Latvia
Samuel Tombs on U.K. Construction in June
Chief U.K. Economist Samuel Tombs on U.K. House Prices
Chief U.K.. economist Samuel Tombs comments on U.K. PMI
Chief U.K. Economist Samuel Tombs on U.K. Labour Market data for May
Chief U.K. Economist Samuel Tombs discussing Q1 GDP Results
Chief U.K. Economist Samuel Tombs on U.K. Price Increases
Chief U.K. Economist Samuel Tombs on the U.K. Economy in 2018
Chief U.K. Economist Samuel Tombs on U.K. Inflation
Chief U.K. Economist Samuel Tombs on U.K. Public Finances
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