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The latest PMIs indicate that the economy remained listless in Q3, undermining the case for a rate rise before the end of this year. The business activity index of the Markit/CIPS services survey rose trivially to 53.6 in September, from 53.2 in August.
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.
The improvement in the Markit/CIPS services PMI in October was pretty limp, supporting our view here that the recovery is shifting into a lower gear. What's more, the poor productivity performance implied by the latest PMIs indicates that wage growth will fuel inflation soon. As a result, the Monetary Policy Committee--MPC--won't be able to wait long next year before raising interest rates. Indeed, we expect the minutes of this month's meeting, released today, to show that one more member of the nine-person MPC has joined Ian McCafferty in voting to hike rates.
February's Markit/CIPS construction survey brought further evidence that the economy is being weighed down by Brexit uncertainty.
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.
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.
The rise in Markit/CIPS services PMI to 55.0 in March, from 53.3 in February, brings some relief that GDP growth has not stalled in Q1, following manufacturing and construction surveys that signalled near-stagnation.
November's Markit/CIPS surveys for the manufacturing, construction and services sectors suggest that GDP growth is on track to strengthen a touch in Q4.
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.
Further compelling signs that the U.K. has lost its status as one of the fastest growing advanced economies were presented by the Markit/CIPS manufacturing survey, released yesterday. The PMI fell in February to 50.8--its lowest level since April 2013--from 52.9 in January.
The small rise in the Markit/CIPS services PMI to 51.3 in February, from 50.1 in January, came as a relief yesterday.
The case for the MPC to hold back from raising interest rates in May remains strong, despite the improvement in the Markit/CIPS services survey in February.
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.
Investors have treated the upbeat message of the Markit/CIPS PMIs this week with caution and continue to think that the chance that the MPC will raise interest rates this year is remote. Overnight index swap rates currently are pricing-in just a one-in-four chance of a 25 basis point increase in Bank Rate in 2017.
September's Markit/CIPS PMIs indicate that the economy still is stuck in a low gear.
October's Markit/CIPS services survey added to evidence that the economy has started Q4 on a very weak footing.
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 Markit/CIPS manufacturing PMI shot up to a three-year high of 57.3 in April, from 54.2 in March, bringing an end to the run of downbeat news on the economy. The performance of the U.K. manufacturing sector, however, remains underwhelming, given the magnitude of sterling's depreciation.
October's Markit/CIPS manufacturing survey indicates that producers are not shying away from passing on to their customers the higher costs stemming from sterling's depreciation.
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.
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.
The sharp and unexpected improvement in the Markit/CIPS manufacturing survey in October released on Monday raised hopes that the recession in the industrial sector might be over. A cool look at the evidence, however, suggests that this probably is just wishful thinking.
The Markit/CIPS PMIs for August, slated for release over the next three business days, will be closely watched. They have provided the most resounding indication, so far, that Britain is heading for a recession. In July, the composite PMI--comprised of the manufacturing and services indices--fell to 47.5, from 52.4 in June, its biggest month-to-month fall since records began in 1998.
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.
The failure of the Markit/CIPS services PMI to rebound fully in April, following its fall in March, provides more evidence that the economy is in the midst of an underlying slowdown.
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.
A further rise in the business activity index of the November Markit/CIPS report on services offset declines in the manufacturing and construction surveys' key balances. The composite PMI--a weighted average of three survey's activity indices -- therefore rose, to a level consistent with quarter-on-quarter GDP growth strengthening to 0.6% in the fourth quarter, from 0.5% in Q3. Nonetheless, we do not think this is a convincing signal that the economic recovery is regaining strength.
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.
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.
One way or another, the preliminary estimate of Q1 GDP--due Friday--will have a big market impact, following Mark Carney's warning last week that a May rate hike is not a done deal.
This was supposed to be the year that wage growth finally would pick up and signal clearly to the MPC that the economy needs higher interest rates.
Expectations that the MPC will raise Bank Rate again soon have taken a big knock over the last two weeks.
The pick-up in GDP growth in Q3 means that we now expect a majority of MPC members to vote to raise interest rates next week.
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 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.
The industrial sector went from strength to strength in 2017. Year-over-year growth in production picked up to 2.1%--its highest rate since 2010--from 1.3% in 2016.
Signs of a slowdown in the labour market data are conspicuously absent.
The rate that labour market slack is being absorbed has slowed, potentially giving the MPC breathing space to postpone the first rate rise beyond next month.
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.
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.
Investors awaiting today's interest rate decision might be a little unnerved to learn that the MPC has a track record of surprises.
The preliminary estimate of Q1 GDP looks set to show that the economy started 2017 on a weak footing. We share the consensus view that quarter-on-quarter GDP growth slowed to 0.4%, from 0.7% in Q4.
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.
The economy's fragility was underlined by the Q3 national accounts, released just before the Christmas break.
Expectations are running high that the MPC will strike a more hawkish tone today in the minutes of this month's meeting and in the quarterly Inflation Report. Investors are pricing in a 45% chance of the MPC raising interest rates before the end of 2017, up from 30% before the last Report in November.
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.
January's money supply figures continued the nerve-jangling flow of data on the economy's momentum.
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.
Figures due on Friday likely will show that the increase in industrial production in December was much smaller than the 0.6% month-to-month assumed by the ONS in its preliminar y Q4 GDP estimate. We expect a 0.2% rise, which would leave production down 0.1% quarter-on-quarter, rather than up 0.1% as the ONS initially estimated.
The MPC's penchant for providing interest rate guidance reached new heights last week.
March's consumer prices figures, released on Wednesday, are even more important than usual, as they are the last to be published before the MPC's next meeting on May 10.
Investors with long sterling positions should not pin their hopes on Friday's GDP report to reverse some of the losses endured over the last week.
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.
Evidence that mounting concerns about Brexit have caused the economy to slow to a near-halt continued to accumulate last week.
December's GDP report, released next Monday, likely will maintain the flow of negative news on the U.K. economy.
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 latest PMIs have added to the weight of evidence that the economic recovery has lost momentum this year. The prevailing view in markets, however, that the Monetary Policy Committee is more likely to cut--rather than raise--interest rates this year continues to look misplaced because inflation pressure is building.
The final July PMIs indicate that the post-referendum slump in activity has been even worse than the flash estimates originally implied. The manufacturing PMI was revised down to 48.2, from the 49.1 flash reading, while the services PMI was unrevised at 47.4, its lowest level since March 2009.
U.K. manufacturers are benefiting from rapid growth in the Eurozone, but increasingly they are being held back by weak domestic demand.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Today's local elections are more important than usual, because they will enable investors to assess if the Conservatives really are on track for a landslide victory in the general election, as suggested by the opinion polls and priced-in by the forex market.
Households' saving decisions will play a key role in determining whether the economy slips into recession over the next year. Indeed, all of the last three recessions coincided with sharp rises in the household saving rate, as our first chart shows. Will households save more in response to greater economic uncertainty?
China's trade surplus has been trending down in the last two years.
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 stagnation of industrial production in October ended a run of six consecutive month-to-month increases, the longest spell of unbroken growth since 1994.
Industrial production figures look set to surprise the consensus to the downside again today. We think that production was flat on a month-to-month basis in August, falling short of the consensus forecast of 0.2% growth.
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.
Industrial production hit its stride last year, notching up eight consecutive month-to-month gains--the longest run of unbroken growth since May 1994--before a setback in December, which was triggered by the temporary closure of the Forties oil pipeline.
Consumer price figures for March, released on Tuesday, likely will show that CPI inflation has taken another step up, probably to 0.4% from 0.3% in February. This should jettison lingering fears that the U.K. is mired in deflation and bolster the Monetary Policy Committee's conviction that inflation will hit the 2% target within the next two years.
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.
Today's trade figures likely will continue to show that the benefits from sterling's depreciation are being outweighed by the costs. Exports still are barely growing, but consumers are about to endure a substantial import price shock. The monthly trade deficit has been extremely volatile over the last year, generating a series of excessively upbeat or gloomy headlines. The truth is that the deficit has been on a slightly deteriorating trend, as our first chart shows. We think the trade deficit likely narrowed to £3.8B in December, from £4.2B in November, bringing it closer to its rolling 12-month average of £3.0B.
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.
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.
The rate of inventory-building regularly is a major influence on GDP growth, but often is overlooked by analysts. Much slower inventory accumulation than in 2014 was the key source of downside surprise to the 2015 consensus GDP growth forecast, and we think inventories likely will be a sustained drag on GDP growth this year too.
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%.
Surveys released over the last week have suggested that the housing market might be past the worst.
Economy-wide confidence deteriorated in November, highlighting that Britain continues to struggle to shake off its malaise.
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.
Lacklustre economic data and persistent no deal Brexit risk mean that the MPC won't rock the boat at this week's meeting.
May's consumer price figures, released on Wednesday, likely will show that CPI inflation held steady at 2.4%--matching the consensus and the MPC's forecast--though the risks lie to the upside.
Hopes that GDP growth might be boosted soon by a pick-up in net exports continue to be undermined by the latest data.
The upturn in the new monthly measure of GDP in May, released yesterday, was strong enough--just--to suggest that the MPC likely will raise Bank Rate at its next meeting on August 2.
September's GDP report laid bare the economy's sluggishness.
The underlying health of the construction sector isn't as poor as today's official output figures likely will imply. Nonetheless, growth in construction output, which accounts for 6% of GDP, probably won't return to the stellar rates seen in 2013 and 2014, and the sector can't be relied upon to provide much support to overall growth.
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.
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.
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 resolution of tensions in Italy and aboveconsensus U.K. PMIs for May last week persuaded investors that the MPC likely will press on and raise interest rates soon.
The sudden jump in the headline, three-month average, growth rate of average weekly wages to a 10-year high of 3.3% in October, from just 2.4% four months earlier, might indicate that the U.K. has reached the sharply upward-sloping part of the Phillips Curve.
The Office for National Statistics yesterday released the last major batch of output data before the preliminary estimate of Q3 GDP is published on October 25, just one week before the MPC's key meeting.
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.
Markets rightly interpreted yesterday's above consensus GDP report as having little impact on the outlook for monetary policy.
Today's consumer prices figures likely will show that CPI inflation increased to 3.1% in November, from 3.0% in October.
The deterioration of the Markit/CIPS manufacturing survey in November should temper optimism about the potential benefits of sterling's depreciation. The PMI fell to 53.4 in November, from 54.2 in October.
Unanticipated movements in the Markit/CIPS services PMI often provoke big market reactions, despite its shortcomings as an indicator of the pace of growth. We suspect December's PMI, released today, could surprise to the downside, reversing most of its rise in November to 55.9 from 54.9 in October. Regardless, we place more weight on the official data, which is more comprehensive and shows clearly the recovery is slowing.
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 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.
Our conviction that the economy continues to grow at a snail's pace increased yesterday following the release of August's Markit/CIPS services survey.
Yesterday's news that the business activity index of the Markit/CIPS services survey fell again in January, to just 50.1--its lowest level since July 2016--has created a downbeat backdrop to the MPC meeting; the minutes and Q1 Inflation Report will be published on Thursday.
The pick-up in the Markit/CIPS services PMI to an eight-month high of 55.1 in June, from 54.0 in May, has provided another boost to expectations that the MPC will raise Bank Rate at its next meeting on August 2.
December's Markit/CIPS surveys for the manufacturing, construction and services sectors suggest that the economy ended 2017 on a lacklustre note.
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