My Q2 guestimate for the tipping point may not have been too far off
U.K. CIPS May Manufacturing Index Falls to 20-Month Low (Bloomberg)
A U.K. manufacturing index, based on a survey by Markit Economics and the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply, declined to 52.1 in May from a downwardly revised 54.4 in April. “Domestic market weakness was the main drag on order books and output,” Rob Dobson, senior economist at Markit, said in the statement. “This was exacerbated by the additional bank holidays in late April, which fell during the early part of the latest survey period, and ongoing supply-chain disruption following the Japanese earthquake.” Producers of consumers goods and small-scale manufacturers were hit hardest last month as output and new orders fell for the first time since the middle of 2009, CIPS said.
U.K. April Mortgage Approvals Fall to Lowest in Four Months (Bloomberg)
Lenders granted 45,166 loans to buy homes, compared with a revised 47,145 the previous month, the Bank of England said. The April figure is the lowest since December. The Bank of England figures show net mortgage lending rose 739 million pounds ($1.22 billion) in April and gross lending amounted to 11.2 billion pounds. Consumer credit rose a net 504 million pounds in April. Credit-card lending increased 347 million pounds, the most since February 2010, while personal loans and overdrafts rose 157 million pounds. A measure of M4 money-supply growth that the central bank uses to assess the effectiveness of its asset purchases fell 2 percent in the three months through April on an annualized basis.
U.K. Inflation May Be Hurting Economic Growth, Sentance Says (Bloomberg)
Former Bank of England policy maker Andrew Sentance said U.K. inflation at more than twice the central bank’s 2 percent goal may be hurting economic expansion.
“The fact that inflation is high is not necessarily associated with strong growth,” he said in an interview with Sky News late yesterday, marking his final day as a member of the Monetary Policy Committee. “In some ways inflation is squeezing out the growth of the economy because it is squeezing people’s disposable incomes.”
Sentance, who will today be replaced by former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. economist Ben Broadbent, said interest rates need to start going up “gradually” now to curb consumer price growth and prevent “much sharper” rate increases in the future.
He also said the central bank’s view of inflation didn’t put enough weight on the influence of the international economy, commodity costs and the decline of the pound.
“I think we should revisit our thinking on the economy,” he said. “We went through a period where there seemed to be a very predictable relationship between growth and inflation. Now we’re in a much more complex situation.”
Sentance said it was difficult to judge how long the impact of the pound’s weakness on inflation would last, as it hadn’t been offset by the impact of the recession holding down prices and wages.
“The issue with the fall in the value of the pound is how big its effect will be and how long it will continue,” he said. “We’re an economy very open to international trade and the value of the pound affects the amount of competition on the markets, the way in which companies price in markets so I think we do have to take the value of the pound very seriously.”
U.K. Housing Transactions to Fall 5.2% This Year, CML Forecasts (Bloomberg)
U.K. housing transactions will probably fall 5.2 percent this year before rising in 2012 as the economy experiences a “weak and patchy recovery,” the Council of Mortgage Lenders said.
Transactions will fall to 840,000 this year from 886,000 in 2010, the London-based group said in a report on its website today. They will rise to 900,000 in 2012, matching the level in 2008. Gross mortgage advances will amount to 140 billion pounds this year and 150 billion pounds in 2012, which compares with
253 billion pounds in 2008.
The CML sees the Bank of England keeping its key interest rate at 0.5 percent for “most” of this year before starting a “modest” tightening cycle that will continue through 2012.
“The prospect of a gentler upward profile for interest rates significantly mitigates the adverse impact on household budgets of weak growth in incomes, and this will help borrowers keep up with their mortgage payments,” it said.
U.K. Consumer Spending Rebound Likely to Be Very Slow, FT Says (Bloomberg)
U.K. consumer spending is likely to recover more slowly than in any post-recession period since 1830, the Financial Times reported, citing its own analysis of forecasts from the Office for Budget Responsibility.
Households are forecast to spend 5.4 percent more in 2015 than they did before the 2008 financial crisis; at the equivalent stages of the 1980s and 1990s recessions, spending was 20 percent and 15 percent higher, respectively, the newspaper said.
In the 18 significant U.K. recessions that have occurred since records began in 1830, consumer spending rose 12 percent above its previous peak within seven years, the FT said, citing Bank of England figures.