- UK Services PMI accelerates, Manufacturing PMI declines
- Bailey’s dampens rate cut expectations
The British pound is steady on Friday, after posting gains of 1.1% a day earlier. In the European session, GBP/USD is trading at 1.2767, up 0.03%.
UK PMIs a mix
British PMIs were a mixed bag in December. The Manufacturing PMI eased to 46.4, down from 47.2 and shy of market expectations of 47.5. Manufacturers are pessimistic as the UK economy is struggling and demand for UK exports has weakened.
The services sector is in better shape, as the PMI rose to 50.9, up from 53.7 in November, which marked the strongest level of growth since May. Services providers continued to show optimism about business conditions, despite the squeeze from the cost of living and elevated borrowing costs.
Bailey pushback sends sterling soaring
It’s been a dramatic week, with central bank rate decisions in the spotlight. On Wednesday, Fed Chair Powell shifted his hawkish stance and projected that the Fed would trim rates three times in 2024. This sent the US dollar lower against the majors.
The Bank of England took the opposite approach on Thursday in its decision to hold rates at 5.25%. Governor Bailey stuck to his script of “higher for longer”. Bailey acknowledged that inflation was moving in the right direction but said in his rate statement that “there is still some way to go” and kept the door open to further rate hikes to bring inflation back down to 2%. Bailey was crystal clear in comments to reporters after the meeting, reiterating that “it’s really too early to start speculating about cutting interest rates”.
There was no mistaking Bailey’s hawkish message and the pound responded with massive gains. Still, Bailey’s view was far from being unanimous, as the MPC vote was 6-3, with three members in support of raising rates.
The markets are marching to their own tune and expect a flurry of rate cuts in 2024, despite Bailey’s pushback. The markets trimmed rate-cut bets following the BoE decision but have still priced in around 100 basis points in easing in 2024. Clearly, there is a deep disconnect between the markets and Bailey & Co. with regard to rate policy.
- There is resistance at 1.2835 and 1.2906
- 1.2727 and 1.2653 are providing support