UK Hammond: Chequers plan offer in-the-middle, down the center solution for Brexit

    UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond talked about Brexit negotiation in a BBC TV interview. He said “the mood is undoubtedly that people want to do a deal with the UK. People want to minimize the disruption of the UK’s departure from the European Union, they want to continue having a relationship with us and smooth trading partnership in the future.”

    But he also admitted “Clearly there has been a hit to the economy through the uncertainty the Brexit process has caused. Many businesses are sitting on their hands frankly waiting to see what the outcome of this negotiation is before confirming their investment plans.”

    He also defended Prime Minister Theresa May’s Chequers plan and said “What Chequers does is offer an in-the-middle solution, down the center, taking the best from both models, and proposing a way forward which delivers on the mandate of the British people in the referendum but also protects British jobs and British businesses,”

    NIESR: UK economy to contract -0.1% in Q2, but no recession

      The National Institute of Economic Social Research (NIESR) said UK economy is on course to contract by -0.1% in Q2. However, initial outlook for Q3 is for growth of 0.2%. Thus, UK would likely avoid a technical recession, two consecutive quarters of contraction.

      Janine Boshoff, Economist in the Macroeconomic Modelling and Forecasting team, said “Our latest estimate implies that the economy will narrowly avoid a technical recession in the middle quarters of this year. That said, the latest ONS data and recent surveys suggest that the economy has lost considerable momentum since the first quarter. This reflects the impact of Brexit-related uncertainty and slower growth in the global economy outside of the United States. The near-term outlook for the UK economy continues to depend on the outcome of the Brexit negotiations.”.

      Full release here.

      Fed Barkin: Near term inflation pressure to ease into Q4

        Richmond Fed President Thomas Barkin said yesterday that “we are in the middle of a temporary adjustment cycle during which workers will return to the workplace and schools open and fiscal payments expire and suppliers catch up with demand.” Near-term inflation pressure is expected to “ease as we go into the fourth quarter,”

        “I think the last 30 years of relative price stability has got to outweigh a few months of pressure, but one can never be too careful,” Barkin added. “That is why the Fed has started the process of discussing normalization” of its policy stance.”

        Hawkish tilt evident in FOMC minutes, yet rate hike skepticism remains

          The minutes from FOMC meeting on July 25-26 signal a clear division within the committee regarding the path of future monetary tightening, with a slight inclination towards a hawkish stance.

          Despite this, market anticipation for immediate rate adjustments remains tepid. Fed fund futures indicate an 86.5% chance that Fed will maintain the status quo in September, with less than 50% probability of a rate hike by year-end.

          On the stock front, NASDAQ felt the heat, declining by 1.15%, possibly reacting to Fed’s deliberations.

          Within the minutes, one point was underscored: “With inflation still well above the Committee’s longer-run goal and the labor market remaining tight, most participants continued to see significant upside risks to inflation.”

          Yet, counterpoints highlighted potential economic vulnerabilities and concerns about unemployment, with some members noting, “there continued to be downside risks to economic activity and upside risks to the unemployment rate.”

          Additionally, a number of participants judged that risks to achieve inflation target “had become more two sided”, and wanred of the risk of “inadvertent overtightening of policy against the cost of an insufficient tightening.”

          FOMC minutes here.

          ECB Lagarde: Conditions for rate hike very unlikely to be satisfied next year

            In a European Parliament committee hearing, ECB President Christine Lagarde said, “growth momentum is moderating to some extent owing to supply bottlenecks and the rise in energy prices.” Consumer spending is “solid”, but shortages of materials, equipment and labour are “weighing on manufacturing production, weakening the near-term outlook.” “Although the duration of supply constraints is uncertain, they are likely to persist for several months and gradually ease only during 2022,” she added.

            Lagarde also reiterated that the upswing in inflation is driven by three primary forces, energy prices, demand outpacing constrained supply, and reversal effect of German VAT cut. “The latter factor will fall out of the inflation calculation from January 2022 but the other two may last longer.” “As a result, we still see inflation moderating in the next year, but it will take longer to decline than originally expected,” she said.

            On monetary policy, she said the conditions for rate hike are “very unlikely to be satisfied next year”. Intentions on further calibration of bond purchases will be announced in December. But “even after the expected end of the pandemic emergency, it will still be important that monetary policy – including the appropriate calibration of asset purchases – supports the recovery throughout the euro area and the sustainable return of inflation to our target of two per cent.”

            Full introductory statement here.

            Japan’s PMI manufacturing fell to 48.6, slackening demand and lower employment

              Japan’s Manufacturing PMI further declined from 49.6 to 48.6 in September, falling short of the anticipated 49.9, marking the most pronounced contraction since February. PMI Services also receded from 54.3 to 53.3. PMI Composite, which gives a holistic view of the broader economy, tapered off from 52.6 to 51.8.

              Usamah Bhatti, an Economist at S&P Global Market Intelligence, noted that the future doesn’t seem particularly rosy, with forward-looking indicators hinting at a possible slackening of demand and activity. While service firms did experience a rise, manufacturing segment reported a sharp decline in new orders, the most pronounced in seven months.

              Another worrisome development is the reduced employment levels in the privatgesector. Bhatti stated, “As pressure on capacity eased, there was a renewed reduction in employment levels.” This trend was “the first since the start of the year and the quickest since August 2020.” He attributed this to companies not replacing those who voluntarily exited, often as a strategy “amid elevated cost burdens.”

              Full Japan PMI release here.

              UK GDP grew 0.5% mom in May, much better than expectations

                UK GDP grew 0.5% mom in May, much better than expectation of 0.0%. Services rose 0.4% mom. Production rose 0.9% mom. Construction also rose 1.5% mom. Monthly GDP is estimated to be 1.7% above its pre-pandemic levels in February 2020. In the three months to May, GDP grew 0.4%. Annual growth in monthly GDP was 3.5% yoy.

                Also published, industrial production was up 0.9% mom, 1.4% yoy, versus expectation of 0.0% mom, 1.7% yoy. Manufacturing production was up 1.4% mom, 2.3% yoy, versus expectation of 0.1% mom, 0.3% yoy. Goods trade deficit was little changed at GBP -21.4B, versus expectation of GBP -18.3B.

                Full GDP release here.

                UK retail sales volume dropped most in 17 months as Brexit uncertainty escalates

                  UK CBI Reported Sales dropped sharply to -18 in March, down from 0 and missed expectation of 5. That is, 28% of respondents reported that sales volumes were up on a year ago in March, while 46% said they were down, giving a balance of -18%. It’s the fastest contraction in 17 months, marked four-month run in which sales have not grown.

                  Anna Leach, CBI head of economic intelligence, said: “Even accounting for Easter timing, the High Street’s poor run continues. While real wage growth is picking up, consumer confidence has been hit by escalating uncertainty over Brexit and concern over the economy’s future. The pain currently being felt on the High Street is yet another reason why it is so vitally important politicians agree a deal in Parliament that is acceptable to the EU and protects our economy. No-deal must be averted at all costs.”

                  Full release here.

                  UK and EU agreed Brexit texts, May to hold Cabinet meeting today

                    The UK and EU have finally agreed on the texts of the Brexit withdrawal agreement after intensive work this week. UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s office confirmed and said “Cabinet will meet at 2:00pm tomorrow to consider the draft agreement the negotiating teams have reached in Brussels, and to decide on next steps.” And, “Cabinet ministers have been invited to read documentation ahead of that meeting”. Approval by the Cabinet will just make the deadline for holding a special EU summit by the end of November for the issue.

                    It’s reported that the agree will adopt a UK-wide customs backstop aimed preventing a hard Irish border. It’s so far unsure how much support May could get from her Cabinet. Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg have already voiced objection to the draft agreement immediately. Johnson said the plan was “utterly unacceptable to anyone who believes in democracy” and he would vote against it. Rees-Mogg warned that UK would become a “vassal state” with Northern Ireland “being ruled from Dublin”. And Mogg added “It is a failure of the government’s negotiating position and a failure to deliver on Brexit”.

                    On the other hand, it’s reported that five senior ministers Dominic Raab, Jeremy Hunt, Sajid Javid, Michael Gove and Geoffrey Cox will back the Brexit deal.

                    NZ BNZ services dropped to 55.8 in Sep

                      New Zealand BusinessNZ Performance of Services Index dropped from 58.6 to 55.8 in September. Looking at some details, activity/sales dropped from 67.5 to 59.2. Employment ticked down from 50.7 to 50.5. New orders/business dropped from 66.6 to 62.9. Stocks/inventories dropped from 59.6 to 54.9. Supplier deliveries was unchanged at 49.7.

                      BNZ Senior Economist Craig Ebert said that “the composite PCI held together at 54.4 in free-weighted terms, while the GDP weighted composite came in at 55.4, from 58.2 in August. These marry with our view that Q3 GDP increased about 1.0%”.

                      Full release here.

                      US consumer confidence rose to 129.1 in Jul, highest since Feb 2020

                        US Conference Board Consumer Confidence rose to 129.1 in July, up from 128.9, above expectation of 123.9. Present Situation index rose from 159.6 to 160.3. Expectations index ticked lower from 108.5 to 108.4.

                        Consumer confidence was flat in July but remains at its highest level since February 2020 (132.6),” said Lynn Franco, Senior Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board. “Consumers’ appraisal of present-day conditions held steady, suggesting economic growth in Q3 is off to a strong start. Consumers’ optimism about the short-term outlook didn’t waver, and they continued to expect that business conditions, jobs, and personal financial prospects will improve. Short-term inflation expectations eased slightly but remained elevated. Spending intentions picked up in July, with a larger percentage of consumers saying they planned to purchase homes, automobiles, and major appliances in the coming months. Thus, consumer spending should continue to support robust economic growth in the second half of 2021.”

                        Full release here.

                        UK PMI construction unchanged at 59.1, but optimism tumbled

                          UK PMI Construction was unchanged at 59.1 in March, better than expectation of 57.3. The latest reading signalled the join-fastest rate of output growth since June 2021. However, business optimism dropped to 17-month low.

                          Tim Moore, Economics Director at S&P Global: “Escalating fuel, energy and commodity prices led to the fastest rise in costs for six months. Intense inflationary pressures appear to have unnerved some construction companies. Business optimism slipped to its lowest since October 2020 on concerns that clients will cut back spending in response to rising prices and heightened economic uncertainty.”

                          Full release here.

                          ECB Mersch: Imperative for all Eurozone states to adhere to the common rules

                            ECB Executive Board member Yves Mersch said in a speech that “it is imperative for all Member States to adhere to the common rules”, without naming Italy. And he emphasized ” two principles that are at the heart of effective policy in a democratic society.” “First, liability and control must be aligned, with important decisions taken only by those who will bear their consequences.” “Second, the discharge of democratic control must lie at the level at which policy decisions are taken.

                            Separately, Chief Economic Peter Praet warned in a Handelsblatt interview published yesterday that “Italy’s current financing conditions are much too tight for a country with weak growth and low inflation.” For now, Praet didn’t see any contagion effect so far. And, ECB won’t intervene if the problems are confined only to Italy. ECB conducts monetary policy for the Eurozone as a whole.

                            Swiss KOF dipped to 98.2, negative signals from manufacturing, services and construction

                              Swiss KOF Economic Barometer dropped slightly from 98.9 to 98.2 in March, below expectation of 100.5, staying below average value of 100.

                              According to KOF, the dip in the overall barometer reading is mainly due to negative signals emerging from the manufacturing, services, and construction sectors. However, these negative developments are partially offset by the positive performance of the Swiss exports indicator bundle. Meanwhile, other indicators incorporated in the barometer exhibit minimal changes.

                              Full Swiss KOF release here.

                              US ISM services dropped to 56.7, growth cooled off by business mostly optimistic

                                US ISM Non-Manufacturing Composite dropped to 56.7 in January, down from 57.6 and missed expectation of 57.0. Business Activity Index dropped -1.5 to 59.7. New Orders dropped -5 to 57.7. Employment Index rose 1.2 to 57.8. 11 non-manufacturing industries reported growth.

                                ISM noted that “The non-manufacturing sector’s growth rate cooled off in January. Respondents are concerned about the impacts of the government shutdown but remain mostly optimistic about overall business conditions.”

                                Some quotes from respondents:

                                • “Business has slowed well below expectations as our customers deal with the effects of economic situations exacerbated by the government shutdown.” (Construction)
                                • “Apprehension regarding overall economic conditions due to uncertainly of the partial government shutdown, its effect on business climate and lack of national strategic direction. Economic activity remains strong locally; however, there is concern that this may change quickly due to uncertainty and reports of slowing economic indicators.” (Public Administration)
                                • “Things are steady. We’re trying to mitigate any impact of the tariffs.” (Retail Trade)
                                • “The shutdown and potential delay in tax refunds will hurt our business.” (Wholesale Trade)

                                Full release here.

                                US jobless claims down to 216k, vs exp. 235k

                                  US initial jobless claims fell -13k to 216k in the week ending September 2, better than expectation of 235k. Four-week moving average of initial claims dropped -8.5k to 229k.

                                  Continuing claims dropped -40k to 1679k in the week ending August 26. Four-week moving average of continuing claims fell -1k to 1701.5k.

                                  Full US jobless claim release here.

                                  US Kudlow hopeful on China trade talks, Perdue reveals new farmer aids

                                    White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow indicated yesterday that US trade team could travel to China to restart trade negotiations. Meanwhile, China could re-start agricultural purchases soon. He said, “as I read it, it looks like there will be a trip to China and we expect, we hope strongly that China will very soon start buying agriculture products, No. 1 as part of an overall deal and No. 2 as a goodwill gesture.”

                                    Kudlow also sounded positive and added, “I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw a lot of positive news on that coming up… I’m going to strike a note of hopefulness.” However, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross sounded more cautious and said “I’m not aware that the gate has opened to any significant degree.”

                                    Separately, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced new aid package to help farms hurt by Trump’s trade war with China. The government will pay a minimum of USD 15 per acre to farmers. He said, “we’re anticipating right now three tranches; probably 50 percent … or minimum there of $15 an acre initially.” The second and third tranches would be dependant on market conditions.

                                    BoJ Kataoka criticizes move to allow wider JGB yield band

                                      BoJ board member Goushi Kataoka criticized the central bank’s recent move to allow 10 year JGB yield to fluctuate in a larger range of -0.1% to 0.1%. He said in a speech that “there’s no need to allow long-term interest rates to move in a wider range at a time when the BOJ is cutting its inflation forecasts.” He added that “allowing long-term rates to rise at a time inflation and inflation expectations aren’t heightening much could delay achievement of the BOJ’s price target.” Also, Kataoka warned “global trade frictions are intensifying and there’s no room for complacency”.

                                      Kataoka is a known dove who dissented the decision to keep policy unchanged in every meeting since joining the board in 2017. Instead, he persistently pushed for more aggressive easing, targeting to keep JGB yields at 0% beyond 10 year maturity.

                                      Swiss KOF dropped to 133.4, prospects remains very positive

                                        Swiss KOF economic barometer dropped to 133.4 in June, down from all-time high at 143.7, missed expectation of 145.3. The barometer still lies well above its long-term average. KOF added, “the prospects for the Swiss economy remains very positive, provided that the economy is not severely affected by a renewed spread of the virus.”

                                        Full release here.

                                        UK Raab open to Brexit transition extension only if it’s short and solves Irish backstop issue

                                          UK Brexit Minister Dominic Raab said he’s open to the so called transition extension if it could salve the Irish border backstop problem. Raab told BBC TV that “If we need a bridge from the end of the implementation period to the future relationship … I am open minded about using a short extension of the implementation period.” But he also added that it’s possible “as long as it is short, perhaps for a few months” and it “has to solve the backstop issue”.

                                          Raab also said it’s now the “end stage” of the negotiation, and there will be “jitters on all sides of this debate”. But he also emphasized thtat it’s “time to play for the team”.