24 March 2017
Despite an unexpectedly sharp rise in UK retail sales in February, the underlying picture is somewhat less positive. The 1.4% month on month increase beat even the most optimistic of estimates, sending an already relatively buoyant sterling to fresh near-term cycle highs. However, on a quarterly basis, which takes some of the ‘noise’ out of the monthly data, sales were down 1.4%, the steepest decline in 3 years.
Aside from the UK data beat, the focus was on the healthcare vote in the States. All the waiting was for nothing though as lack of support for the bill saw the vote delayed until today.
Comments from Bank of England MPC member Vlieghe that a rise in inflation would not mean an automatic rise in interest rates has taken a little of the shine off sterling despite his known dovish leanings.
The focus this morning is on the latest Eurozone PMI flash estimates for both the manufacturing and service sectors. Steady to strong showings are expected across the board. This afternoon’s durable goods orders from the States look set to show a second consecutive increase following the previous two months of decline. Ex-transport, orders are seen up for the 7th month in the last eight following last month’s flat reading. However, the focus is more political than fundamental in the States right now.
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