UK rates on hold …
No surprise this week - the MPC voted to keep rates on hold and maintain the size of the asset purchase programme at £375 billion. It will be some months yet before rates begin to rise. Our current assumption is that rates will begin to rise in the second quarter of 2015.
40% of respondents in the latest Bank of England/GfK Inflation survey expect rates to rise over the next twelve months. No worries for the future apparently. Once on the rise, over 70% expect rates to be less than 3% in five years time. So much for the madness of crowds.
Clearly the general public have a much better grasp of the latest simulations of the “equilibrium real interest rate associated with a neutral monetary policy over the medium term” than is generally assumed. They must have been listening to the speech by David Miles last month.
Asked about the current rate of inflation, the median answer was 3.5% down from 4.4% in November. Excellent. So much for the madness and the wisdom of crowds.
US Payroll data up …
In the USA, better than expected payroll data guarantees the Federal Reserve will continue to taper, with a further reduction this month to $55 billion. Employers added 175,000 more jobs in February.
Movement in US futures suggest the markets attach a "higher probability to a US rate rise in the middle of 2015". Fed officials have said they are “comfortable with market expectations of future rate rises”. We think US rate rises could be on the agenda by the end of 2014 or early 2015. The implications for UK rate rises should be evident. Our mantra - watch the USA and add six months - may be a little more compressed in this cycle.
UK survey data …
This week the February Markit/CIPS UK PMI® surveys were released. The strong upswing in the UK manufacturing sector continued in February. Output and new business continued to rise at above-trend rates. The leading index at 56.9 was up from a revised reading of 56.6 in January.
In construction, the pace of expansion continued to rise sharply. The leading index scored 62.6 in February, down from a 77-month high of 64.6 in January. Still a very strong performance.
In the service sector, output continues to expand strongly in the month. The headline Business Activity Index recorded 58.2 during February, little changed on January’s 58.3 and indicative of a sharp rise in activity on a monthly basis.
Overall, output in construction, manufacturing and services suggest the economy continues to recover across the board at a very strong rate. The latest NIESR GDP tracker suggest growth increased by 3.5% in January.
The Bank of England expects growth of over 3.5% in the first quarter. For the year as a whole, the consensus forecast is for growth of 2.7% this year. We await the details of the latest GM Chamber of Commerce survey before raising our estimates of growth this year. The GDP(O) model is signalling growth of 3% for the year as a whole. The survey data is a little more tempered, I suspect.
In the UK and the USA, growth is accelerating and the job market is “tightening”. The pay round will become more difficult by the end of the year. Earnings are set to increase significantly as critical unemployment levels are breached by early 2015. Household incomes are set to improve and the recovery in spending will continue. There will be no “rebalancing”, whatever that really means.
Growth up, unemployment down, inflation down and borrowing heading in the right direction. Just the trade figures will continue to disappoint. If growth hits 3% this year, disappointment could turn to shock and alarm. Then all forward rate bets will be off.
So what happened to sterling?
The pound closed at $1.672 from $1.675 and at 1.205 from 1.213 against the Euro. The dollar closed at 1.387 from 1.381 against the euro and 103.3 from 101.7 against the Yen.
Oil Price Brent Crude closed at $108.86 from $109.02. The average price in February last year was almost $116 falling to $108 in March.
Markets, moved slightly - The Dow closed at 16,458 from 16,367 and the FTSE slipped closing at 6,712 from 6,809.
UK Ten year gilt yields closed at 2.81 from 2.72 and US Treasury yields closed at 2.80 from 2.67. Gold lovers worship alone with a close at $1,338.
That’s all for this week. No Sunday Times and Croissants tomorrow or for the rest of this year for that matter. We are taking a break in this pre election year.
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The material is based upon information which we consider to be reliable but we do not represent that it is accurate or complete and it should not be relied upon as such. We accept no liability for errors, or omissions of opinion or fact. In particular, no reliance should be placed on the comments on trends in financial markets. The presentation should not be construed as the giving of investment advice.