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UK economy likely to have contracted in May, US PPI to slow further

We saw another day of strong gains for European markets yesterday, with the FTSE 100 undergoing its best one-day gain since early June after US CPI came in below forecasts.

US markets also saw strong gains with the S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 breaking above their highs of this year, and pushing up to their highest levels since April 2022, with the Nasdaq 100 leading the gains.

Asia markets followed suit with strong gains across the board despite the latest set of China trade data for June showing that economic activity slowed further. Exports fell by -12.4% from a year ago, missing expectations by a large margin, while imports also declined more than expected, by -6.8%, further reinforcing concerns about deflation, but on the more positive side increasing expectations of stronger stimulus by Chinese authorities in the weeks ahead.   

Yesterday’s US CPI numbers for June were never likely to change the calculus behind another 25bps rate hike when the Fed meets in two weeks’ time, but they have altered the story when it comes to what might come next, and it is this that markets are reacting to, with the US dollar and yields falling back sharply.

The nature of yesterday’s numbers suggest that whatever other Fed officials would have us believe in the context of their current hawkishness, further rate hikes beyond this month will be a big ask, and probably won’t happen, hence the weakness seen in both the US dollar and US yields seen so far this week.

That said we can still expect Fed officials to continue to adopt a hawkish tone on the basis that they won’t want markets to prematurely start pricing in rate cuts, and will want to keep the option of further hikes very much on the table.

Nonetheless the shift seen in the last few days does help to explain why the US dollar has slipped so much against the Japanese yen, although some are suggesting it is because we might see a policy shift from the Bank of Japan when it meets at the end of this month. Whichever way you come at it from, the net effect is likely to be the same, in that US and Japanese rates are likely to converge, rather than diverge.

Today’s PPI numbers for June are expected to reinforce the disinflation trends being seen rippling out through the global economy. On the headline numbers PPI is expected to see another sharp slowdown from 1.1% in May to 0.4% in June, while core PPI is forecast to slow down more modestly from 2.8% to 2.6%.

Whichever way you look at it, further weakness here is likely to trickle down into the CPI numbers in the coming months, and reinforce the disinflationary narrative, but more importantly signal that US rate hikes are done bar the move in two weeks’ time.

Yesterday’s US inflation numbers could prove to be good news for UK homeowners, if yesterday’s move in UK yields is any guide, in that they might reduce the pressure on the Bank of England to be more aggressive in terms of their own rate hiking policy.

If this month’s expected July hike from the Federal Reserve is in fact the last one, then the Bank of England may only need to do another 50bps in August before similarly signalling a pause, which means that UK current terminal rate pricing is too high. This would be an enormous relief for mortgage holders worried that the base rate might rise as high as 6.5%. 

The problem for the UK is the energy price cap is keeping inflation levels way too high, and now it has outlived its usefulness it really ought to be scrapped. It was useful in containing the upside, however by way of its design its not reflecting the sharp declines in gas prices in the last 12 months.  

Consequently, it is contriving to exert upward pressure on wages as consumers struggle with the higher cost of living due to energy prices not coming down quickly enough.

This failure is likely to be reflected in today’s UK economic data for May, which is expected to see both manufacturing and industrial production post sharp 0.4% declines.

The monthly GDP numbers for May are also forecast to show a -0.3% contraction due to the multiple bank holidays during the month, as well as widespread public sector strike action, with index of services seeing a sharp slowdown from 0.3% in April to -0.2%. The weak performance in May is likely to act as a sizeable drag on Q2 GDP, although we should see some of that recovered in June.         

EUR/USD – broke higher through the highs of this year and could well retest the highs of March 2022 at 1.1185. This becomes next resistance, with a break targeting the 1.1485 area, with support now at 1.1020.

GBP/USD – has encountered resistance at the 1.3000 area. We need to see a break above 1.3020 to target a move towards 1.3300, and the March 2022 highs. Support now comes in at the 1.2850 area.  

EUR/GBP – failed again at the 0.8500 area, with the rebound currently holding below the 0.8570/80 area. A break above here targets the 50-day SMA which is now at 0.8610.

USD/JPY – slid down to the 138.15 area where we have cloud support. If this gives way, we could see further losses towards 137.20. We now have resistance back at the 140.20 area.


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