Having briefly touched 1.38 on Wednesday – a one week high – the pound to dollar rate moved laterally yesterday. This marked a slight recovery after the Bank of England’s (BoE) chief economist Andy Haldane unexpectedly resigned on Tuesday – the BoE Monetary Policy Committee’s (MPC) most upbeat member on prospects for a sharp economic recovery from the pandemic.
Lending demand for property purchases and remortgages dropped in Q1 2020 – just before the spring Budget announcement on 3 March – the latest BoE credit conditions survey shows. The net percentage balance for house purchase in Q1 2020 recorded -21.9 compared to 31.5 in Q4 last year. However, when asked about demand in Q2 this year, lenders predicted a rise amounting to a net percentage balance of 42.8.
US Weekly Jobless claim Fall to Lowest Pandemic Level
In contrast to the UK, where a lack of impetus from the UK economy drove the pound to dollar rate’s lateral movement, the US currency was under pressure from falling Treasury yields, which pulled back from last month’s surge. This has left investors increasingly convinced the Federal Reserve will keep interest rates low for a prolonged period.
Yields, while elevated historically, have been stuck in a tight range recently, offering little support to the dollar. This is largely due to the Fed’s dovish tone, which has apparently ignored the rapidly improving outlook for the US economy.
New weekly jobless claims plummeted to a pandemic period low following last week’s unexpected jump, with the US labour market’s uneven recovery moving in tandem with the trajectory of new Covid-19 infections. Initial jobless claims in the week ending 10 April dropped to 576,000 from 769,000 vs. 700,000 expected.
US shoppers boosted retail spending in March, as government-stimulus funds filtered into households and the economy reopened more fully from lockdown restrictions. Retail sales jumped 9.8% last month, the Commerce Department reported yesterday – the largest monthly gain since last May. The rise also followed a revised 2.7% drop in sales during February.
The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia reported that its headline manufacturing activity index increased to 50.2 in April from 44.5 in March – moving into expansion territory and beating market expectations of 42 by a wide margin.
A quiet end to the week in the UK’s economic calendar means a speech by BoE MPC member Sir Jon Cunliffe will be in sharp focus.
Several influential pieces of data are scheduled for release in the US today: Building Permits, Housing Starts, and the Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index for April – which is forecast to reach a pandemic high of 89.6.
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