GBP: Inflation heading in the right direction
Figures releases yesterday showed a slight dip in inflation in December. This decline in the rate of price increases is the first dip in 6 months and, more than anything shows that the impact of the fall in the pound following the Brexit referendum is now starting to fall out of the inflation calculations. This may be the beginning of a longer term pull back to levels closer to the Bank of England’s 2% target, something that will of course be of great help to consumers still struggling with real wage declines.
Recent moves in oil markets will have to be watched closely of course given their impact on supply chains for a great many industries and at the pump but today’s number is, maybe, a sign that the squeeze on prices from the currency is coming to an end.
The Bank of England, in our opinion, will still be focused on wages and productivity news to back up thoughts of additional increases in interest rates but today’s dip momentarily limits the need for higher borrowing costs in the UK.
Sterling slipped following the announcement but quickly regained its poise and we wait on Friday’s retail sales numbers as the next data point to deliver further information as to how the UK economy performed in December.
USD: Turning point?
USD is injecting volatility into the currency markets all by itself this morning. It has been 5 days of consecutive losses for the dollar but an inflection point may have been found overnight with JPY, EUR, AUD and NZD all gaining and then losing ground against the US dollar.
The near-term political focus is tomorrow’s need for a stopgap funding measure for the US government. Lawmakers yesterday warned that the chances of a government shutdown are at their highest since the Federal Government shuttered for about a fortnight in 2013. According to Bloomberg, a bill that could be floated today will fund the government through Feb. 16. While most Republicans are said to be optimistic, others have said the measures are not enough to get Democrats on side.
We think any government shutdown would be seen as dollar negative in the short term.
US industrial production numbers are due this afternoon.
CNY: Watching for GDP
China will release its GDP report over the next night and with the changes in CNY calculations released last week both the GDP report and the currency’s reaction will be interesting to see. We look for industrial and consumer spending to rise but investment growth to remain weak with fears remaining about how overly leveraged the Chinese economy is. For now, both the CNH and CNY are quiet.
Have a great day.
Jeremy Cook, Chief Economist