Political news continues to dominate markets, however UK CPI and US retail sales released yesterday helped to provide a brief distraction from the UK General Election. News that Labour moved ahead in a number of opinion polls weakened the Pound earlier this week, before a Guardian poll showed the Conservatives had taken a commanding 6 point lead over its rival party. Sterling strength was seen throughout the day as the Pound holds a slightly Tory bias.
Yesterday morning UK inflation remained anaemic at a record low set in February. UK CPI has been at 0% for the last two months as the threat of deflation grows. Cheaper clothing and footwear, offset by a rise in petrol prices, helped to maintain the rate at 0%. One of the main reasons CPI has remained broadly unchanged was the rising petrol and diesel prices that occurred between February and March. Sterling suffered a small blip after this release as many had expected inflation to climb back to a positive figure.
US retail sales rose less than expected in March after being depressed by harsh winter weather, however retail sales did bounce back from -0.5%, posting growth of 0.9%, however still less than economists’ consensus. The data signals that Americans remain focused on saving the capital accumulated at the pump from falling oil prices instead of spending at retailers. Retail sales have been soft in 2015 despite lower energy prices, could this recent poor figure delay the Federal Reserve’s decision to raise interest rates?
Today’s docket will be dominated by the ECB as Draghi leads a press conference this afternoon. We also have industrial production from the US, crude oil inventories and an ECB rate decision where the main benchmark is forecast to remain at 0.05%.