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The FTSE 100 has fallen by 4% over the last two weeks, exceeding the 1-to-3% declines in the main US, European and Japanese markets. The FTSE's latest drop builds on an underperformance which began in early 2014. The index has fallen by 10% since then--compared to rises of between 10% and 20% in the main overseas benchmarks--and has dropped by nearly 15% since its April 2015 peak. We doubt, however, that the collapse in U.K. equity prices signals impending economic misery. The economy is likely to struggle next year, but this will have little to do with the stock market's travails.
The 15% fall in the FTSE 100 since its May 2018 peak undoubtedly is an unwelcome development for the economy, but past experience suggests we shouldn't rush to revise down our forecasts for GDP growth.
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.
The FTSE 100 fell further yesterday, briefly to levels not seen since November 2012, but its drop over recent months is not a convincing signal of impending economic disaster. The economic recovery is likely to slow further, but this will reflect the building fiscal squeeze and the sterling-related export hit much more than the wobble in market sentiment.
At first glance, the U.K. consumer price data show a perplexing absence of domestically generated inflation.
The MPC likely will vote unanimously to keep Bank Rate at 0.75% on Thursday.
All seven of Britain's major banks passed the Bank of England's stress test this year, in the first clean sweep since the annual test began in 2014.
The political momentum in the run-up to the election now lies with Labour.
Expectations that the MPC will raise Bank Rate again soon have taken a big knock over the last two weeks.
Yesterday's public finance figures brought more good news for the Chancellor.
The Monetary Policy Committee chose to keep its options open in the minutes of this week's meeting, rather than signal as clearly as it did last year that interest rates will rise very soon.
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 PM now is at a fork in the road and will have to decide in the coming days whether to risk all and seek a general election, or restart the process of trying to get the Withdrawal Agreement Bill--WAB--through parliament.
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 CPI inflation rate for non-energy industrial goods--core goods, for short--has tracked past movements in trade-weighted sterling closely over the last ten years, because virtually all goods in this sector are imported.
Hopes that GDP growth will strengthen following the general election, which has eliminated near- term threats of a no-deal Brexit and a business- hostile Labour government, were bolstered yesterday by the release of December's Markit/ CIPS services survey.
The $10 increase in the price of Brent crude oil over the last three months to $68 is an unhelpful, but manageable, drag on the U.K. economy's growth prospects this year.
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.
As things stand, we see little reason to revise down our forecasts for the U.K. economy in response to the tailspin in equity markets
Yesterday's economic data point to a sea of calm in the Eurozone economy. The composite PMI was unchanged at 53.1 in June, a slight upward revision from the initial estimate, 52.8. The index suggests real GDP growth was stable at 1.5%-to-1.6% year-overyear in Q2, though the quarter-on-quarter rate likely slowed markedly, following the jump in Q1.
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.
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.
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.
Some closely-watched composite leading indicators for the U.K. economy, and for many others, are flashing red.
With campaigning for the general election intensifying last week, it was unsurprising that October's money and credit release from the Bank of England received virtually no media or market attention.
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.
Members of the Monetary Policy Committee have signalled that January's flash Markit/CIPS composite PMI, released on Friday 24, will have a major bearing on their policy decision the following week.
This weeks' IMF's staff report on the Italian economy has increased the urgency for a compromise between the EU and Italy over the country's suffering banks. The report highlighted that financial sector reform is "critical" to the economy, and that the treatment of the significant portion of retail investors in banks' debt structure should be dealt with "appropriately."
Evidence that U.K. asset prices still are depressed by Brexit risk has become harder to find.
Emmanuel Macron's victory in France has lifted investors' hopes that the good times in the Eurozone economy and equity markets are here to stay. On the face of it, we share markets' optimism. Mr. Macron and his opposite number in Germany--our base case is that Ms. Merkel will remain Chancellor--will form a strong pro-EU axis in the core of the Eurozone.
Donald Trump's victory casts a shadow of political uncertainty over what had appeared to be a decent outlook for the U.S economy. The U.K.'s trade and financial ties with the U.S., however, are small enough to mean that any downturn on the other side of the Atlantic will have little impact on Britain.
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.
Another day, another downbeat survey. The British Chamber of Commerce's comprehensive and long-running Quarterly Economic Survey was published yesterday, and it added to evidence of a Q1 slowdown.
Leading indicators are giving conflicting signals regarding the outlook for core goods CPI inflation.
Markets greatly cheered the Conservatives' landslide victory on Friday, but remained cautious on the potential for the MPC to return to the tightening cycle it started in 2017.
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.
Retail sales fell back to earth in September, indicating that the pick-up in spending over the summer largely was a weather-related blip.
The recent surge in equity prices is not a game- changer for the outlook for households' spending. Like last year, slowing growth in real disposable incomes and house prices will have a far greater impact on spending than rising paper wealth.
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.
On the face of it, December's flash Markit/CIPS PMIs warrant the MPC cutting Bank Rate at its meeting on Thursday.
Financial markets and economic data don't always go hand-in-hand, but it is rare to find the divergence presently on display in Italy.
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%.
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.
The downturn in equity prices deepened yesterday, with the FTSE 100 index closing at 5,537, 22% below its April 2015 peak. We remain unconvinced, however, that financial market turmoil is set to push the U.K. economy into a recession. We continue to take comfort from the weakness of the past relationship between equity prices and economic activity.
Chief US Economist Ian Shepherdson on Consumer Confidence figures for April
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