The Bank of England shocked the markets last week after a number of MPC members unexpectedly voted for an interest rate rise. The interest rate itself was not raised from the current 0.25%, although three of the eight members voted for an immediate rise. With inflation at almost one percent above the BOE’s target, Kristin Forbes, Ian McCafferty and Michael Saunders voted to raise interest rates to help bring prices down. Sterling rallied after the announcement, although the boost was limited due the worse than expected retail sales figure posted earlier in the day.
Across the pond, it was no surprise that the Fed raised interest rates for the second time this year, keeping in line with the rate hike forecasts set out at the beginning of 2017. The rate which now stands at 1.25% is the highest rate since 2008. The Fed cited both economic growth and job market strength as the reason behind the decision. They also mentioned the inflation rate will fall short of the year’s target, but indicated they will be sticking to the rate hike projections, meaning another rise this year is still likely and three more rises in 2018.
Political news also continued to dominate the headlines last week as the Conservatives met with the Democratic Unionist Party. Theresa May hopes to strike a deal which would allow her to govern with a Conservative minority, using the backing of the DUP MPs to pass laws through Parliament. The State Opening of Parliament and Queen’s Speech were originally scheduled to take place on Monday. However, due to delays in striking the deal, it has been moved to Wednesday. The markets will be focusing on the EU withdrawal talks which are due to start this week.
The Economic docket is relatively light today. However, we do have a number of FOMC members to entertain us throughout the day. Firstly, Federal Reserve Bank of New York President, William Dudley, speaks in the afternoon and Fed President of Chicago, Charles Evans, will address markets late in the evening.
Two further FOMC members are speaking on Tuesday, Rober Kaplan at the Economy and Monetary policy at the Commonwealth Club and Stanley Fischer at the Riksbank Macroprudential Conference. Anything untoward here could inject volatility into the Greenback.
Wednesday sees the release of the UK public sector net borrowing figure and the US existing home sales. Also released is the crude oil inventories from the States.
The weekly US unemployment claims will be released on Thursday, as economists gain an insight into the healthy US labour market.
Friday will see both flash manufacturing and services PMIs being released from the Eurozone and US. These are the first of two releases of the figures so market volatility is expected. Anything above 50 will indicate expansion in the secondary sector, both are expected to post above this number.