The FTSE index is showing limited movement on Wednesday. In the North American session, the pair is at 7,418, down 0.01% on the day. In economic news, British BRC Shop Price Index slowed to 0.4% in April, after a strong gain of 0.9% in the March release. British manufacturing PMI dropped to 53.2, just above the estimate of 53.1. points. Net Lending to Individuals improved to GBP 4.7 billion, above the estimate of GBP 4.5 billion. Investors will be keeping a close eye on the Federal Reserve, which releases its rate statement. On Thursday, the Bank of England will set the benchmark rate and the U.K. releases Construction PMI.
It’s a busy week for central banks, as the Federal Reserve sets the benchmark rate on Wednesday, with the Bank of England following suit on Thursday. The BoE is likely to stay pat and maintain rates at 0.75% for a seventh straight month. However, a dovish policy summary could weigh on investor sentiment, and the BoE has plenty to worry about. Recent British numbers have been lukewarm, and Brexit will continue to weigh on the pound, even with the extension until October. Consumers remain pessimistic about the economic outlook and uncertainty over Brexit, and this gloomy mood has also affected consumer spending.
The Federal Reserve is expected to stay on the sidelines and maintain rates at a range between 2.25-2.50 percent. Investors will be focused on the rate statement, looking for clues regarding the next rate move. The Federal Reserve has said it expects to hold interest rate levels for the rest of the year, and the most recent inflation numbers will reinforce that stance, as the Fed target of 2.0% remains elusive. GDP and consumer spending are looking bright, but nonetheless there is no danger of the economy overheating, so the Fed can afford to leave rates at the current level for the near future.