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U.K. Retail Sales Unexpectedly Decline as Inflation Bites

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  • U.K. Retail Sales Unexpectedly Decline as Inflation Bites

U.K. retail sales unexpectedly fell for a third month in January, suggesting consumers are starting to feel the squeeze from accelerating inflation.

The volume of goods sold in stores and online declined 0.3 percent following a 2.1 percent plunge in December, the Office for National Statistics said on Friday. The fall confounded market expectations for a 1 percent increase. In the three months through January, sales dropped 0.4 percent, the worst quarterly performance since 2013.

The figures add to evidence that the long-awaited cooling in household spending is materializing as Britons find their purchasing power eroded by soaring prices. That threatens to hurt an economy that relies heavily on consumers for growth.

“It looks like the UK consumer’s remarkable post-Brexit resilience is finally coming to an end,” said James Smith, an economist at ING Bank NV in London. “It could be an increasingly tough 2017 for the U.K. consumer.”

The pound fell after the data and was down 0.7 percent at $1.2408 as of 10 a.m. London time.

Inflation hit 1.8 percent last month and is forecast to keep climbing through 2017 as the sharp drop in the pound since the Brexit vote boosts import costs. The price of retail goods sold in January, as measured by the deflator, increased on an annual basis by 1.9 percent, the biggest rise since mid-2013.

The data show “the first signs of a fall in the underlying trend since December 2013,” said ONS statistician Kate Davies. “The evidence suggests that increased prices in fuel and food are significant factors in this slowdown.”

In January, there were declines in sales of food, household goods and products bought online. That left sales just 1.5 percent higher than a year earlier, the weakest annual pace in more than three years. Sales excluding auto fuel fell 0.2 percent on the month.

The 2.1 percent drop in total sales in December was revised from a previous estimate of 1.9 percent and represented the biggest drop since May 2011.

While inflation is predicted by some economists to top 3 percent this year, wage growth remains anaemic at about 2.6 percent, putting real incomes on course for their worst year since 2013.

Other signs that the squeeze is taking its toll emerged in BOE figures last month showing a big drop in the amount borrowed by consumers in December. Investors now see a 13 percent chance that the BOE will raise its benchmark interest rate from a record-low 0.25 percent by the end of this year. That’s down from almost 50 percent at the start of the year.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Markets

Global Markets Near Record Peaks and Will Get Stronger: deVere CEO

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Stocks

As the FTSE 100 hits 7,000 points for the first time since the Covid pandemic, global stock markets are poised to “get even stronger”, says the CEO of one of the world’s largest independent financial advisory and fintech organisations.

The observation from Nigel Green, the chief executive and founder of deVere Group, comes as London’s index jumped over the important threshold in early trading in London, gaining over 0.5% to 7024 points.

Mr Green notes: “London’s blue-chip index is up 40% since the worst lows of the pandemic.

“This landmark moment represents the wider optimistic sentiment gripping global markets which are near record peaks.

“We can expect global stock markets to get even stronger as investors look to seize the opportunities from economies reopening.

“They are looking towards economies rebounding in a post-pandemic era due to the monetary and fiscal stimulus, pent-up cash and demand, and strong corporate earnings.

“The current ultra-low interest rate environment and the under-performance of bonds will also act as a catalyst for stock markets.”

However, the CEO’s bullish comments also come with a warning.

“I would urge investors to proceed with caution as there are some headwinds on the horizon, including relations between the U.S. and China, the world’s two largest economies, which could be coming to a tipping point in coming weeks.

“As such, in order to capitalise on the opportunities and mitigate risks, investors must ensure proper portfolio diversification.”

Mr Green concludes: “A variety of factors are going to drive global stock markets. Investors will not want to miss out and should work with a good fund manager to judiciously top-up their portfolios.”

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Markets

Refinitiv Expands Economic Data Coverage Across Africa

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Building on its commitment to drive positive change through its data and insights, Refinitiv today announced the expansion of its economic data coverage of Africa. The new data set allows investment managers, central bankers, economists, and research teams to use Refinitiv Datasteam analytical data for detailed exploration of economic relationships and investment opportunities among data series covering the African continent.

Securing reliable, detailed, timely, locally sourced content has not been easy for economists who have in the past had to use international sources which often can take many months to update and opportunities to monitor the market can be missed. Because Africa is a diverse continent, economists and strategists need more timely access to country-specific data via national sources to create tailored business, policy, trading and investment strategies to meet specific goals.

Africa continues to develop critical infrastructure, telecommunications, digital technology and access to financial services for its 1.3bn people. The World Bank estimates that over 50% of African inhabitants will be under 25 by 2050. This presents substantial opportunities for investors who can spot important trends and make informed decisions based on robust and timely economic data.

Stuart Brown, Group Head of Enterprise Data Solutions, Refinitiv, said: “Africa’s growing, dynamic and fast evolving economies makes it a focal point for financial markets today and in the coming decades.  As part of LSEG’s commitment to empowering the global markets with accurate and timely data, we are excited about making these unique datasets available via the Refinitiv Data Platform. Our economic data coverage of Africa will provide our customers with deeper and broader inputs for macroeconomic analyses and enable more effective investment strategies and economic research.”

Refinitiv Africa economic data coverage:

  • Africa economics content comprises around 500,000 nationally sourced time series data covering 54 African nations
  • Content is sourced from national statistical offices, central banks and other key national institutions
  • The full breadth of economics categories in Datastream including national accounts, money and finance, prices, surveys, labor market, consumer, industry, government and external sectors
  • International sources including OECD, World Bank, IMF, African Development Bank, Oxford Economics & more provide comparable data & forecasts across the continent

Refinitiv® Datastream® has global macroeconomics coverage to analyze virtually any macro environment, and better understand economic cycles to uncover trends and forecast market conditions. With over 14.2 million economic times series map trends, customers can validate ideas and identify opportunities using Refinitiv Datastream. Access its powerful charting tools, 9,000 pre-built chart templates and chart studies for commonly used valuation, performance, and technical and fundamental analysis.

 Refinitiv continually grows available data – the China expansion in 2019 covered a unique combination of economic and financial indicators. Refinitiv plans to expand Southeast Asia covering Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines and Malaysia with delivery expected in 2021. This ensures that Refinitiv will have much needed emerging market economic content.

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Oil Rises on Drawdown in U.S. Oil Stocks, OPEC Demand Outlook

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Oil prices rose in early trade on Wednesday, adding to overnight gains, after industry data showed U.S. oil inventories declined more than expected and OPEC raised its outlook for oil demand.

Brent crude futures rose 28 cents, or 0.4%, to $63.95 a barrel at 0057 GMT, after climbing 39 cents on Tuesday.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures similarly climbed 28 cents, or 0.5%, to $60.46 a barrel, adding to Tuesday’s rise of 48 cents.

Oil price gains over the past week have been underpinned by signs of a strong economic recovery in China and the United States, but have been capped by concerns over stalled vaccine rollouts worldwide and soaring COVID-19 infections in India and Brazil.

Nevertheless, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) tweaked up its forecast on Tuesday for world oil demand growth this year, now expecting demand to rise by 5.95 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2021, up by 70,000 bpd from its forecast last month. It is banking on the pandemic to subside and travel curbs to be eased.

“It was a welcome prognosis by the market, which had been fretting about the impact the ongoing pandemic was having on demand,” ANZ Research analysts said in a note.

Further supporting the market on Wednesday, sources said data from the American Petroleum Institute showed crude stocks fell by 3.6 million barrels in the week ended April 9, compared with estimates for a decline of about 2.9 million barrels from analysts polled by Reuters.

Traders are waiting to see if official inventory data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) on Wednesday matches that view.

Market gains are being capped on concerns about increased oil production in the United States and rising supply from Iran at a time when OPEC and its allies, together called OPEC+, are set to bring on more supply from May.

“They may have to contend with rising U.S. supply,” ANZ analysts said.

EIA said this week oil output from seven major shale formations is expected to rise by 13,000 bpd in May to 7.61 million bpd.

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