The British pound has bounced back on Wednesday and recorded sharp gains. In the European session, GBP/USD is trading at 1.2055, up 0.74%.
Food inflation jumps
Ask any British consumer, and they’ll tell you that food prices have been going through the roof. The BRC provided data in that regard, stating that food inflation hit a record 13.3% in December, up from 12.4% in November. The BRC put the blame on the Ukraine war, which has resulted in higher prices for energy and raw materials. With the war dragging on and no end in sight, we’re unlikely to see a drop in food prices anytime soon.
High inflation and more expensive mortgage payments have squeezed British households, which have been hit by the worst cost-of-living crisis the UK has experienced in years. The OBR projected in November that real household disposable income would fall by 4.3% in 2022-2023. The rise in inflation has been accompanied by weak growth, and the UK is likely already in a recession. Goldman Sachs has forecasted the GDP will contract by 1.2% in 2023, the worst among the G-10 major economies. This is only marginally better than the forecast for Russia, with GDP expected to decline by 1.3%.
The Bank of England has been focussed on inflation and raised rates by 50 basis points to 3.5% in December. Inflation eased to 10.7% in December, down from 11.1% in November, which marked a 41-year high. The BoE would prefer not to tighten in such a weak economic environment but has argued that it would be worse to allow inflation to remain at high levels. All signs indicate that the BoE will continue to raise rates in early 2023, starting at the February 2nd meeting.
In the US, investors will have two key events to digest later today. ISM Manufacturing PMI fell into contraction territory in November for the first time since May 2020, with a reading of 49.0 points. Another weak reading is expected for December, with a forecast of 48.5 points. The 50.0 threshold separates contraction from expansion.
The Federal Reserve will release the minutes from its December meeting. At the meeting, Fed Chair Powell sent a hawkish message that interest rates could continue to rise and poured cold water on a dovish pivot. Investors will be looking for clues as to interest rate policy in 2023 and its outlook for the US economy.
- GBP/USD has support at 1.1949 and 1.1846
- There is resistance at 1.2095 and 1.2198
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