Sterling fares well following PMI surprise despite retail sales fall

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Sterling fares well following PMI surprise despite retail sales fall
© Provided by City AM

This morning’s UK retail sales figures showed a monthly decline of 0.2 per cent in September, while the market had been anticipating a rise of 0.6 per cent.

Meanwhile, sales were down 1.3 per cent compared to September last year, yet the consensus forecast was for a decline of 0.4 per cent.

It was the fifth straight month that headline sales have fallen. Stripping out the positive impact of panic buying at the petrol stations, sales fell 0.6 per cent month on month.

“The news highlights the pain currently being felt by the consumer from a combination of supply constraints and higher prices,” said Marc Cogliatti, Principal – Global Markets for Validus Risk Management.

“In contrast, flash estimates of October’s manufacturing and service sector PMI surveys both exceeded market expectations. Companies across the economy reported robust spending from both businesses and consumers, while employment figures also remained strong,” Cogliatti added.

“When coupled with comments from the Bank of England’s new Chief Economist Huw Pill yesterday regarding the threat of higher inflation, there is a clear case for the Bank to begin raising interest rates sooner rather than later.”

“Consequently, the market is fully pricing in a 15 basis point (+0.15 per cent) rate hike in December with further rate increases likely in the first half of next year,” Cogliatti said.

Meanwhile, there was a strong split between sectors of the economy, today’s IHS Markit/CIPS flash UK composite PMI report found, with the services sector recording a Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) score of 58 versus manufacturing production at just 50.6 – the widest margin between the two since 2009.

Manufacturing saw its weakest output performance in eight months with goods producers revealing they are struggling to meet customer demand due to long lead times in supply chains and staff shortages.

Nearly two-thirds of UK manufacturers said delivery times had worsened in October. Only 1 per centsaid they had improved.

By comparison, the services sector recorded strong boosts in business as a result of spending following the rollback of pandemic restrictions, including an expansion of export sales.

“Sterling continues to fare well, particularly against the euro where it sits at its highest level since March 2020. Longer term, we remain wary of the risks of higher inflation, resulting in lower real rates of return, the recent rise in COVID cases and supply chain disruption to economic output,” Cogliatti concluded.

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