This article titled “US inflation points to rate rise, while UK prices stop falling – as it happened” was written by Graeme Wearden (until 2.15) and Nick Fletcher, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 15th December 2015 17.33 UTC
European markets end sharply higher ahead of Fed, as oil stabilises
After another Black Monday it was Turnaround Tuesday for European markets. With the oil price stabilising – Brent crude is now 1.4% better at $38.47 a barrel – and investors more or less inured to a US rate rise from the Federal Reserve on Wednesday, leading shares recovered some of their recent losses. The FTSE 100 finished higher for the first time in nine trading sessions, while other markets also moved ahead. The closing scores showed:
- The FTSE 100 finished 143.73 points or 2.45% higher at 6017.79
- Germany’s Dax rose 3.07% at 10,450.38
- France’s Cac closed 3.16% better at 4614.40
- Italy’s FTSE MIB jumped 3.74% to 21,272.68
- Spain’s Ibex ended up 3% at 9711.6
- In Greece, the Athens market slipped 1.2% to 583.18
On Wall Street the Dow Jones Industrial Average is currently 176 points or 1% higher.
On that note, it’s time to close for the evening. Thanks for all your comments, and we’ll be back tomorrow as the Federal Reserve (probably) raises US interest rates for the first time in nearly ten years.
Updated at 5.33pm GMT
Oil price volatility has seen crude record hefty falls and rises sometimes on the same day. But for once, it has remained mainly in positive territory with none of the violent swings of recent times, with Brent crude now up around 1% at $38.26.
And this (unusual) steadiness has helped support stock markets, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 183 points or 1% and the FTSE 100 2.4% better. Jasper Lawler, market analyst at CMC Markets, said:
Unlike on recent occasions, a reversal of the decline in oil prices has lasted through the afternoon and relieved some of the pressure on stock markets. The bounce had its beginnings on Monday when crude oil finished flat after having being down over 2% during the day and continued through Tuesday.
Monday’s oil price rebound coincided with the Dow Jones Industrial Average narrowly avoiding a two-month low.
But if the consensus now is that a US rate rise is inevitable on Wednesday, there are differing views about what happens after that. Some believe the underlying strength of the US economy may lead the Federal Reserve to a series of hikes. But a Wall Street Journal survey paints a different picture:
The expected rate by the US Federal Reserve on Wednesday is likely to have a negative effect on emerging markets, since they have benefitted from inflows of cash thrown off by central bank stimulus measures over the past years.
But the impact may not initially be that significant since the Fed move has been widely expected and emerging markets have already come off their highs. And in any case not all emerging markets are equal in this respect. That is the view of Sanjiv Shah, chief investment officer at Sun Global Investments, who said:
The Fed’s rise in interest rates will be felt in the emerging market currencies to some extent, and they will be under some additional pressure as many have already been hit by the global commodity slump and general risk aversion to emerging market assets.
However, as the interest rate increase has been flagged for some time, much of its likely impact is already reflected in current prices and so it unlikely to be overly significant.
Rather, the interest rate rise in the US will in the medium term highlight the differences between the diverging emerging market countries, with weaker countries such as Turkey, South Africa and Russia being more negatively impacted that that of stronger performing countries such as India.
A possible Fed rate increase may have some initial negative impact on Emerging Market assets but they are unlikely to be significant as the Fed increase has been well flagged and the EM assets have already fallen greatly.
Wall Street opens sharply higher
US markets are continuing where they left off on Monday. In contrast to Europe, which showed major falls during the first trading session of the week, Wall Street ended a volatile day higher. And while European markets have now rebounded, the US is also soaring as investors come to terms with the widely expected interest rate rise from the Federal Reserve tomorrow.
Oil is again a dominant factor. After coming within a whisker of an 11 year low on Monday, Brent crude has recovered and is currently up 1.4% at $38.45 a barrel while WTI is up 0.5% at $36.8.
So the Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 181 points or 1% in early trading, helping push the FTSE 100 even higher, up 2.3%. Germany’s Dax is up 2.9% and France’s Cac is 2.7% better.
Meanwhile the market is underestimating the pace of future US rate rises, according to Dr Harm Bandholz, chief US economist at UniCredit Research:
The Fed will raise rates tomorrow and signal a gradual rate hike path for the consecutive three years. Chair Yellen has highlighted in her recent speech that the FOMC “will carefully monitor actual progress toward our inflation goal as we make decisions over time on the appropriate path for the federal funds rate.”
As we think that the underlying strength of the domestic economy will continue to allow inflation rates to grind higher, we reiterate our view that financial markets underestimate the pace of hikes.
And another analyst agrees that a US rate rise is now likely on Wednesday in the wake of the inflation figures. Rob Carnell at ING Bank says:
The last possible piece of data that could have undermined expectations for a 25 basis point rate hike at the Dec 16 FOMC meeting, has if anything, reinforced the need for a small increase in rates.
November CPI was flat on the month – but that was still sufficient, given helpful base effects, to push the annual inflation rate from 0.2% year on year to 0.5% year on year. Much more of this seems likely in coming months, even with oil’s recent price weakness. So as we move through January and into February, we look for headline inflation to rapidly begin to converge on core inflation, now up to 2.0% year on year (up from 1.9% in October).
We suspect that the Fed will try to resist any pressure this puts on them to respond more aggressively with policy rates than the market currently expects. They will be wary that such actions will likely push the dollar meaningfully higher, and weaken an already soft manufacturing sector. As a result, the Fed are likely to tolerate some higher headline and core inflation, as well as higher wages, which we believe will continue to push higher into a 2.5-3.0% range in the early part of 2016.
In doing so, we think the Fed runs the risk that inflation expectations will creep higher, and if they are slow to move policy rates, this pressure is likely to exert itself through the back end of the yield curve, with higher 10 year yields.
Ipek Ozkardeskaya of London Capital Group says today’s US inflation report will satisfy the hawks at the US Federal Reserve to vote for an interest rate rise tomorrow night.
The US inflation figures matched the market expectations in November. The headline inflation remained flat, while once the impact of food and energy prices discounted, the prices inflated 0.2% on month.
Given the cheaper energy and oil prices, the Fed may have some additional difficulty to lift the consumer prices to their 2% target soon enough, nevertheless the price in services appear to counterweight the deflation in the energy and commodity complex.
And this is good news for the Fed preparing to raise its interest rate by 25 basis point for the first time since 2006.
A handy visual of how the inflation rate has picked up:
The main message from today’s US inflation report is that pricing pressures are building (if you ignore cheaper oil and food).
This chart, from Johnny Bo Jakobsen of Nordea Markets, shows how all the measures of core inflation are picking up, with core inflation in the services industry hitting a seven-year high:
He argues that this means the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates several times next year:
Today’s CPI report showed more signs that domestic inflation pressures continue to mount, despite the stronger US dollar and lower oil prices. As the impact of the stronger dollar and the slump in energy prices begins to wane next year, inflation will climb even higher.
We stick to the view that rising inflation pressures will imply that the pace of Fed tightening during 2016 will be faster than is currently priced in by markets.
Updated at 2.06pm GMT
US inflation: Instant reaction
It appears that the US inflation report paves the way to a Fed rate hike tomorrow night:
Updated at 1.40pm GMT
US inflation rises to 0.5%
Here we go….
Inflation across the US economy has risen, giving the Federal Reserve another green light to hike interest rates tomorrow.
The US Consumer Prices Index jumped by 0.5% annually in November. On a monthly basis, prices were unchanged compared with October.
And crucially core inflation, which strips out food and energy, increased to 2% year-on-year in November.
Protests in Greece ahead of austerity vote
Although the eurozone crisis has dropped out of the headlines, it isn’t over.
And in Greece today, thousands of nurses took to the streets to protest against cuts envisaged in the country’s latest package of internationally mandated reforms. That package will be voted on tonight
Our correspondent Helena Smith reports:
Tonight’s fast-track vote on the second set of prior actions, or ‘milestones,’ agreed by Athens’ leftist-led government, may not involve the red-hot issue of pensions (the most incendiary reform of all) but it has spurred fury nonetheless. Nurses are outraged that the latest reform package envisages a 40% pay cut for departmental heads at a time when the sector has suffered wage cuts of 30% and the health system is teetering on the verge of collapse.
Chanting “no more downgrading,” nurses from around Greece gathered outside the health ministry this morning determined that the government revokes the decision before the ballot.
Lambros Bizas, treasurer of the nurses 35,000-strong union, told me:
“It’s totally unethical that this decision was taken without any prior discussion literally overnight. It is almost as if we are being punished because departmental heads in other areas of the public sector, have received a €50 pay increase as part of the reform. To think that this is a left-wing government that has done this is even more absurd.”
A lot of nurses, badly hit by successive rounds of cost-cutting measures since Athens’ debt crisis erupted, had voted for the governing Syriza party when snap polls were held in September, union officials said. Instead what they had discovered were “lies, lies, lies.”
“Right now there is great disillusionment, the general feeling is that they are the worst of the worst,” said Giorgios Drachtidis, who sits on the union’s board.
“Hospitals are in a tragic state … cuts are such that on the night shift there is only one nurse per 70 patients. At least with other governments you knew what to expect. This government does things overnight. You never know what tomorrow will bring.”
Dimitris Skortellis, the union’s president who was also attending the rally, added:
“With disbelief we have been told the cut was a typing mistake but frankly we don’t believe it. We will fight until it is officially withdrawn.”
Nurses are not the only public sector employees protesting today. The communist affiliated PAME labour union is organising 27 rallies across Greece ahead of tonight’s vote.
MPs, meanwhile, have been debating the measures. Finance minister Euclid Tsakalotos looks like he’s ready for Christmas!
Updated at 4.03pm GMT
Reaction to this morning’s UK inflation report is still coming in.
Martin Beck, senior economic advisor to the EY ITEM Club, reckons that price rises will remain weak in 2016:
“November’s figures are likely to mark the beginning of the long road back towards the 2% target, with the base effects associated with last year’s collapse in the oil prices now having started to kick-in. We still expect inflation to remain below 1% until well into 2016, requiring the Governor to write a further series of open letters of explanation to the Chancellor.”
One down, one to go.
With UK inflation out of the way (coverage starts here), investors are now looking to America.
The latest US consumer prices index report, due in just under 30 minutes, is expected to show that inflation picked up – to perhaps 0.5% from 0.2% in October.
A big jump in prices will mean there’s even more chance that the Federal Reserve finally takes the plunge and raises US borrowing costs tomorrow (at 7pm GMT or 2pm on the East Coast)
Shares in London have pushed higher following the news that Britain escaped negative inflation last month.
The FTSE 100 blue-chip index jumped by 102 point, or 1.75%, to 5977 points. That’s a hefty jump, clawing back all of yesterday’s selloff.
Investors are still holding their nerve ahead of the US central bank’s policy meeting on Wednesday night, where it’s likely to raise US interest rates.
There’s little prospect of the Bank of England following suit soon, though, given UK inflation is so far below the 2% target.
Almost all shares have gained ground in London today. Big risers include supermarket chain Sainsbury, after new figures showed that it had gained market share.
Research group Kantor also reported that major retailers are still cutting prices in an attempt to win sales; another reason why inflation is so low.
Page 21 of today’s inflation report contains a detailed breakdown of the Consumer Prices Index, showing how prices of key items rose (or fell) in the last year.
Here’s a flavour:
- Food and non-alcoholic beverages: down by 2.4% in the 12 months to November
- Alcoholic beverages and tobacco: up 1.4%
- Clothing and footwear: unchanged
- Housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels: up 0.3%
- Furniture, household equipment and maintenance: up 0.4%
- Health: up 1.7%
- Transport: down 2.1%
- Communication: up 2.9%
- Recreation and culture: down 0.1%
- Education: up 4.8%
- Restaurants and hotels: up 1.8%
- Miscellaneous goods and services: up 1.3%
And that adds up to an overall inflation rate of +0.1%.
Updated at 12.45pm GMT
Summary: UK inflation back above zero
Here’s our news story on this morning’s inflation figures, by Heather Stewart:
UK inflation nudged back above zero last month for the first time since July, with prices rising by 0.1%.
Plunging global commodity prices have meant that inflation has been unusually weak in historic terms through much of 2015, and despite November’s 0.1% increase, the consumer prices index (CPI) shows that the price level across the economy stood barely higher than at the end of last year.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said that smaller declines in transport costs, including petrol, than for the same month in 2014 had contributed to making inflation positive, as measured on the CPI.
Clothing and footwear prices fell, partly offsetting the upward pressure from transport costs.
Measured on the retail prices index (RPI), which is still used to set some train ticket prices and pension payments, and is calculated to include housing costs, inflation appeared stronger, at 1.1%…
Will UK pay rises wither?
With inflation so low, UK workers are currently enjoying real wage increases of around 2.5% to 3%.
That’s bringing some relief after the long cost-of-living squeeze after the financial crisis began.
But there are concerns that wage increases could be pegged back in 2016; bosses could point to low inflation as a reason to keep the purse-strings tight.
The Institute of Directors has fired a warning shot into my inbox. Their economic analyst, Michael Martins, says Britain needs to boost productivity (a long-standing problem), before pay rises can be afforded.
Employees may begin to demand higher wage increases in cash terms once prices begin to go up and they feel the pinch on their disposable incomes. When this occurs, employers and staff will be under even more pressure to raise productivity to pay for sustainable wage rises.
This follows a warning from the Resolution Foundation, a think tank, overnight. It fears that real wage growth (nominal pay rises minus inflation) could drop to below 1% – -if inflation picks up and productivity remains weak.
My colleague Katie Allen explains:
The thinktank considers the impact of five different scenarios for productivity and prices on median hourly wage growth in 2016. On its best case, faster-than-expected productivity growth of 2% and prolonged low inflation that rises to just 1% by the end of the year could result in the fastest real wage growth for more than a decade at around 3%.
But if productivity growth holds at 1.3% and inflation grows more quickly than forecast to hit the Bank’s target of 2% by the end of the year, the pace of real wage growth could drop to 0.9%. That would leave workers waiting even longer to return to the kind of pay rises they enjoyed before the downturn.
Andy Scott, economist at money transfer company HiFX, is also in the growing band of experts who believe UK interest rates will remain at record lows for many months, thanks to weak inflation.
“We seem to be experiencing the effects of a slowdown in a number of producing countries, especially China, that are forcing prices lower.
We expect this situation to continue into next year and for the Bank of England to therefore maintain rates where they are until the back end of next year, possibly into 2017 depending on whether OPEC decide to intervene to lift oil prices.
Low inflation and cheap oil is a double-dose of pre-Christmas cheer for consumers, says Chris Williamson, of financial data provider Markit:
“This is clearly good news for consumers in two respects: low prices boost spending power and the dovish outlook for inflation takes pressure off the Bank of England from hiking interest rates any time soon.”
Cheaper oil prices may push the UK back into negative inflation soon. But rather than fuelling panic about deflation, it would be positive for the economy overall.
Kallum Pickering of Berenberg Bank explains:
This is not a serious risk to the economy. As a net importer of oil the UK benefits when prices fall. Especially when some of these cost savings are passed onto households.
Osborne’s policies blamed as UK house price inflation hits 7%
The cost of a house in Britain continues to surge much faster than the headline inflation rate.
It’s a fresh blow to those trying to get on the housing ladder, and one expert says the chancellor is partly to blame.
The ONS has reported that UK house prices increased by 7.0% in the year to October 2015, up from 6.1% in the year to September 2015.
Price growth had been slowing earlier this year, but is now picking up again – driven by strong demand in the East and the South East of England, and in Northern Ireland.
Jeremy Leaf, former chairman of industry body RICS, says recent policies announced by chancellor George Osborne are making the housing market more unaffordable.
That includes higher stamp duty on buy-to-let landlords and people buying second homes, starting in April 2016.
Leaf, who is a north London estate agent, fears we’re entering boom territory as buyers rush to complete deals before the higher taxes kick in.
‘These figures reinforce the findings of other recent surveys, demonstrating that the housing market is heading towards a boom and bust that the government is partly responsible for but said it wanted to avoid.
‘The boom is being engineered because investors and second homeowners are rushing to buy before April and avoid higher stamp duty. Afterwards, we will see a much quieter market, with rising rents and affordability becoming more stretched as lending criteria tightens and interest rates potentially rise.’
Updated at 10.53am GMT
UK inflation, the key charts
This chart shows how the record-breaking monthly drop in clothing prices in November had the biggest impact on inflation last month.
But the broad picture is that food, non-alcoholic drinks and transport are all cheaper than a year ago:
Updated at 10.38am GMT
Our video team have pulled together a handy explanation of what inflation is, how it’s calculated, and why it can be a problem….
Cheaper petrol on the horizon
Today’s inflation report doesn’t capture the latest plunge in the oil price (which came close to its 2008 lows yesterday).
That will only show up next month, when the impact of cheaper energy is recorded in December’s Consumer Prices Index.
James Brown, partner at the London office of pricing experts Simon-Kucher & Partners, predicts that petrol and energy prices could fall in the weeks ahead:
“The value of a barrel of Brent crude has now tumbled below $40 (£26.39), which is the lowest it has been since the financial crisis. Motorists have already seen the savings from lower wholesale petrol prices being passed on at the pumps. Britain’s largest supermarkets have cut their petrol prices to less than a £1, the first time they have gone below this “magic” threshold for six years, in the hope that this can lure in customers during this crucial festive period. The pressure is now on the non-supermarket forecourts to follow suit.
“This oil price drop should eventually filter through into savings on utilities bills, which will be particularly welcome as we enter into the coldest months of the year.
Updated at 10.39am GMT
Maike Currie, associate investment director at Fidelity International, reckons Britain’s inflation rate will turn negative again soon:
“Today’s move into positive territory is likely to be short-lived with the massive fall in oil prices and the supermarket discount wars likely to keep a lid on UK inflation as we head into 2016. I expect UK CPI to continue see-sawing around the zero-mark for the near future.
“Deflation is a double-edged sword which can have wreak economic havoc but can also kick start regenerative economic forces. The positive side effects of deflation as manifested in fuel in food prices is that it provides a boost to real incomes. In both the US and UK, falling prices coupled with a strengthening labour market, resulting in job and wage growth, raises real incomes.
Currie also reckons the Bank of England will leave UK interest rates at record lows through 2016.
UK consumers enjoyed a record-breaking fall in clothing sales last month.
Today’s report shows that prices fell by 0.1% between October and November — the first monthly fall of this type since records began in 1996. It follows the largest September to October price increase on record.
Clothing prices have been unusual this year. Retailers initially suffered a bad summer, as unseasonably cold weather hit demand for new holiday wear.
This was compounded by a warm autumn, which forced shops to slash prices of coats and other winter gear in November.
The ONS says there were
….price movements for a broad range of outerwear (particularly women’s trousers) with more products on sale this November than a year ago.
Here’s why inflation is positive again
The inflation report is packed with nuggets, explaining why the cost of living turned positive last month.
Transport has less of a drag on inflation, because it’s now more than a year since petrol prices began to fall sharply (so this effect starts to ‘drop out’ of the inflation report).
The Office for National Statistics explains:
- transport: prices, overall, fell by 0.7% between October and November this year compared with a larger fall of 1.2% between the same 2 months a year ago. As prices fell by less than last year, this resulted in an upward contribution to the CPI 12-month rate. Within transport, the upward effects came principally from motor fuels and second-hand cars. Petrol prices fell by 1.5 pence per litre this year compared with a fall of 3.0 pence per litre a year ago while diesel fell by 0.6 pence this year compared with 2.9 pence a year ago. Second-hand car prices rose by 1.6% this year compared with a fall of 1.0% a year ago.
It also found that the fall in alcohol prices is bottoming out:
- alcoholic beverages and tobacco: prices, overall, fell by 0.1% between October and November this year compared with a fall of 1.2% between the same 2 months a year ago. The upward contributions came from spirits and wine.
Updated at 12.06pm GMT
The broad picture is that Britain’s inflation rate has been bobbing around zero this year:
- Transport costs and alcohol and tobacco prices were the main contributors to the rising inflation rate last month, says the ONS.
- But falling clothing prices partially offset the rise.
UK inflation rate turns positive
Breaking: The UK has broken out from negative inflation, just!
Prices rose by 0.1% annually in November, according to the latest data from the Office for National Statistics.
That ends two months where the consumer prices index was minus 0.1%, causing concerns that Britain was facing deflation.
More to follow…
Moody’s slashes oil forecasts as supply glut builds
With typical prescience, rating agency Moody’s has slashed its forecast for oil prices next year and predicted a ‘prolonged period of oversupply’.
It now expects Brent crude to average just $43 per barrel in 2016, down from $53 previously. It also cut its forecast for West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude, the North American benchmark, to $40 from $48 per barrel.
It also predicts that prices of both flavours of oil will only rise by $5 per barrel in 2017, and in 2018.
Moody’s points to the high levels of production by global oil producers has significantly exceeded growth in oil consumption. In particular, it believes that Iran will add significant new supplies once sanctions are lifted.
Terry Marshall, Senior Vice President at Moody’s, argues that oil companies will flood the market at a faster rate than customers can consume it.
“It will take time for these large global inventories to unwind, and combined with the possibility of new supply coming online from Iran, we expect oil prices to remain lower for a longer period than previously anticipated.”
Updated at 9.24am GMT
Conner Campbell of SpreadEx says traders are hoping that the oil market won’t dominate the agenda again today:
After a jittery, commodity-driven plunge on Monday, one that left the FTSE at 3 year lows, the markets will be hoping Tuesday’s busy day of data can distract investors from any further twists in the price-upsetting oil saga.
And so far, the oil price does look calmer:
- Brent crude has inched up by 0.2% , meaning it costs exactly $38 per barrel.
- US crude is up 0.14% at $36.34 per barrel.
Australian traders would be forgiven for reaching for a few cold beers tonight, after seeing stocks hit their lowest level since the middle of 2013.
From Melbourne, my colleague Martin Farrer explains:
The Australian share market has slipped to its lowest level for more than two years after the benchmark ASX/S&P 200 index suffered its sixth successive day of losses.
After a volatile day’s trading on Tuesday, the index closed down 0.39%, or 19 points, at 4,909.6 points, its lowest point since July 2013.
Oil and mining stocks fell again, reflecting how exposed Australia’s resource industry is to the commodity crunch and a slowing Chinese economy.
Updated at 9.07am GMT
A healthy rally is underway across Europe this morning, despite the prospect of a historic US interest rate hike tomorrow evening.
The main indices are all in the green, up by around 1.5%, with traders holding their nerve as they await the conclusions of the Fed’s two-day meeting which begins in a few hours.
Chris Weston of IG says that investors are concerned that the Fed might commit a serious blunder by raising interest rates tomorrow.
The overriding feel I am getting is that traders want to buy risks assets again, but they are too concerned about being long in a market where traders genuinely inherit a belief of a policy mistake from the Federal Reserve.
FTSE 100 rebounds from Monday’s meltdown
Shares are rallying in London at the start of trading, as investors regain their nerve after yesterday’s wobble.
The FTSE 100 index of major blue-chip companies has bounced by 1.3%, recovering more than half of yesterday’s losses and reversing a long slump. Other European markets are also rallying….
Mining companies such as Glencore, BHP Billiton and Anglo American are among the FTSE risers, suggesting that peace has broken out – if only briefly – in the commodities rout.
There’s some relief that the oil price didn’t plunge through its 2008 lows yesterday (although it came close), which helped drive shares up on Wall Street yesterday.
Mike van Dulken of Accendo Markets reports:
The positive opening comes thanks to a positive US close as a depressed oil price regained some composure from seven year lows courtesy of a weaker US dollar.
It follows a weak Asian session with investors on edge as the Fed begins the two-day FOMC meeting that could culminate in the first US rate hike in nigh on a decade with repercussions from emerging markets to high yield debt.
Earlier, Japan’s Nikkei closed down 1.6%. Shares in exporters suffered as the yen strengthened a little against the US dollar.
VW loses market share again
We have new evidence that Volkswagen’s sales have been dented by the emission scandal.
Industry group ACEA has reported that car sales across the European Union jumped by 13.7% year-on-year in November.
It’s the 27th consecutive month of growth, led by Spain (+25.4%), Italy (+23.5%) and France (+11.3%).
US car marker Ford led the revival, with sales jumping by 20% year-on-year. Peugeot’s sales rose by +14.7, while Fiat posted a +19.8% jump.
VW lagged behind, though, with sales across the group up by only 4.1%. Volkswagen-branded car sales rose by a mere 2.8%, while SEAT sales dropped by 3%.
And that means VW’s market share shrank to 12.2%, from 13.5%.
The wider EU market looks quite heathy. Sales in 2015 are up 8.7% to 12,603,855 units, meaning 2014’s total has already been exceeded with a month to go.
Britain’s brief flirtation with falling consumer prices could end today, when November’s inflation report is published at 9.30am.
Inflation was minus 0.1% in October and September, but has probably turned positive again now.
But even if the Consumer Prices Index has risen to +0.1, it will still be far from the Bank of England’s 2% target.
Katie Allen’s inflation preview explains all:
The rate has been pulled down sharply by a combination of tumbling global commodity prices, from oil to food, and the effects of a strong pound, which makes imports cheaper.
But economists say that inflation probably returned to positive territory last month, mainly thanks to so-called base effects – falls in petrol and alcohol prices were smaller this November than a year earlier.
Updated at 7.52am GMT
The Agenda: Inflation figures loom as Fed meeting begins
Good morning, and welcome to our rolling coverage of the world economy, the financial market, the eurozone and business.
America’s top central bankers will gather in Washington, DC, today to start what could be a historic two-day policy meeting. Markets currently reckon there’s a 76% chance that the Federal Reserve will take the plunge and hike borrowing costs from the current record low on Wednesday, for the first time in nearly a decade.
The Fed meeting continues to overshadow the markets today, fuelling volatility and causing ructions in the commodity and junk bond sectors.
While a hike is largely priced in, Fed chair Janet Yellen will need her A-game when she faces the press tomorrow, and tries to guide market expectations for monetary policy in 2016.
Peter Rosenstreich, head of market strategy at Swissquote Bank, explains:
Barring a massive shock, it’s highly likely the Fed will raise rates 25bp this week. With scant exception, it is universally broadcasted and already widely priced in. Therefore, investors will be focused on the Fed’s forecasts, notes and tone.
Given the deflationary impact of asset prices adjusting to the US hiking cycle; USD strengthening, oil / commodities falling and general weakness in global demand and data on uncertainty, we anticipate a dovish, gradual steepening strategy will be communicated.
If the Fed does hike, though, then it will be doing so in a much weaker inflationary environment than before.
We get new inflation data from Britain and America today. Economists predict that the cost of living rose by 0.1% in the UK, up from -0.1% in October. US inflation is tipped to rise from 0.2% to 0.5% – still below the 2% target
After yesterday’s rout, European stock markets are expected to rebound this morning.
Spread-betters are predicting that the FTSE 100 will bounce by over 1%, having hit a three-year low last night.
But the oil price remains weak, having flirted with its lowest levels since the financial crisis yesterday.
And there could be developments in Greece, where MPs are due to vote on a new package of austerity measures tonight.
Here’s the timings:
- 7am GMT: European car sales for November
- 9.30am: UK inflation for November
- 10am: German ZEW confidence report
- 1.30pm: US inflation for November
- Morning: Federal Reserve Open Market meeting begins
We’ll be tracking all the main events through the day….
Updated at 7.40am GMT
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