- U.K. Wage Growth Beats Forecasts But Still Lags Inflation
The squeeze on U.K. consumers continued in the second quarter, when the fastest inflation in four years ate into workers’ income.
Basic wages rose an annual 2.1 percent in the three months, lagging behind a surge in price growth driven by the pound’s decline in the wake of the Brexit vote. That left real incomes down 0.5 percent year-on-year, the Office for National Statistics said on Wednesday.
While households are still being pinched, the unexpected acceleration in wage growth and drop in unemployment pushed the pound higher. The currency climbed from the weakest level since October against the euro, and investors moved forward their expectations for a Bank of England rate hike by the end of 2018 to 89 percent, from 80 percent on Tuesday, according to short sterling.
Still, it’s a headache for BOE policy makers that wage growth has failed to sustainably pick up even with unemployment at the lowest in more than 40 years. Officials cut their forecasts for pay growth at this month’s Inflation Report, with Governor Mark Carney suggesting that “an element of Brexit uncertainty” was preventing firms from awarding bigger wage increases.
While the BOE expects the squeeze on U.K. pockets to continue for some months, it has said that inflation is near its peak and this may be as bad as it gets. For now, the feeble pay growth is weighing on consumer confidence — at its lowest level in a year — and damping demand in British stores.
With consumer spending accounting for a large part of the economy, there are broader implications. Growth slowed in the first half of the year, and economists surveyed by Bloomberg see expansion cooling to 1.5 percent this year from 1.8 percent in 2016, and losing even more speed in 2018.
Even with the weaker growth outlook, the lowest unemployment rate since 1975 should be driving up wages. There were 125,000 jobs created in the three months and the unemployment rate fell to 4.4 percent, the report said. That’s below the BOE’s equilibrium rate of 4.5 percent. In a further sign of labor-market tightness, the number of unemployed people per vacancy was at a record low of 1.9.
Total pay including bonuses rose 2.1 percent, the ONS said, also better than forecast. Adjusted for inflation, it fell 0.5 percent, slightly less than recorded the previous month.
The report also showed that productivity, as measured by output per hour, fell 0.1 percent in the three months through June, recording a second straight quarter of declines.
“It should be a real cause for concern that the U.K.’s productivity has fallen again,” said Ann Francke, chief executive of the Chartered Management Institute. “It’s becoming increasingly clear that decisive action is needed if we are to end this downward trend.”
Brent Crude Oil Approaches $70 Per Barrel on Friday
Nigerian Oil Approaches $70 Per Barrel Following OPEC+ Production Cuts Extension
Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian oil is priced, rose to $69 on Friday at 3:55 pm Nigerian time.
Oil price jumped after OPEC and allies, known as OPEC plus, agreed to role-over crude oil production cuts to further reduce global oil supplies and artificially sustain oil price in a move experts said could stoke inflationary pressure.
Brent crude oil rose from $63.86 per barrel on Wednesday to $69 per barrel on Friday as energy investors became more optimistic about the oil outlook.
While certain experts are worried that U.S crude oil production will eventually hurt OPEC strategy once the economy fully opens, few experts are saying production in the world’s largest economy won’t hit pre-pandemic highs.
According to Vicki Hollub, the CEO of Occidental, U.S oil production may not return to pre-pandemic levels given a shift in corporates’ value.
“I do believe that most companies have committed to value growth, rather than production growth,” she said during a CNBC Evolve conversation with Brian Sullivan. “And so I do believe that that’s going to be part of the reason that oil production in the United States does not get back to 13 million barrels a day.”
Hollub believes corporate organisations will focus on optimizing present operations and facilities, rather than seeking growth at all costs. She, however, noted that oil prices rebounded faster than expected, largely due to China, India and United States’ growing consumption.
“The recovery looks more V-shaped than we had originally thought it would be,” she said. Occidental previous projection had oil production recovering to pre-pandemic levels by the middle of 2022. The CEO Now believes demand will return by the end of this year or the first few months of 2022.
“I do believe we’re headed for a much healthier supply and demand environment” she said.
Oil Jumps to $67.70 as OPEC+ Extends Production Cuts
Oil Jumps to $67.70 as OPEC+ Extends Production Cuts
Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian oil is priced, rose to $67.70 per barrel on Thursday following the decision of OPEC and allies, known as OPEC+, to extend production cuts.
OPEC and allies are presently debating whether to restore as much as 1.5 million barrels per day of crude oil in April, according to people with the knowledge of the meeting.
Experts have said OPEC+ continuous production cuts could increase global inflationary pressure with the rising price of could oil. However, Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said “I don’t think it will overheat.”
Last year “we suffered alone, we as OPEC+” and now “it’s about being vigilant and being careful,” he said.
Saudi minister added that the additional 1 million barrel-a-day voluntary production cut the kingdom introduced in February was now open-ended. Meaning, OPEC+ will be withholding 7 million barrels a day or 7 percent of global demand from the market– even as fuel consumption recovers in many nations.
Experts have started predicting $75 a barrel by April.
“We expect oil prices to rise toward $70 to $75 a barrel during April,” said Ann-Louise Hittle, vice president of macro oils at consultant Wood Mackenzie Ltd. “The risk is these higher prices will dampen the tentative global recovery. But the Saudi energy minister is adamant OPEC+ must watch for concrete signs of a demand rise before he moves on production.”
Gold Hits Eight-Month Low as Global Optimism Grows Amid Rising Demand for Bitcoin
Gold Struggles Ahead of Economic Recovery as Bitcoin, New Gold, Surges
Global haven asset, gold, declined to the lowest in more than eight months on Tuesday as signs of global economic recovery became glaring with rising bond yields.
The price of the precious metal declined to $1,718 per ounce during London trading on Thursday, down from $2,072 it traded in August as more investors continue to cut down on their holdings of the metal.
The previous metal usually performs poorly with rising yields on other assets like bonds, especially given the fact that gold does not provide streams of interest payments. Investors have been jumping on US bonds ahead of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus stimulus package, expected to stoke stronger US price growth.
“We see the rising bond yields as a sign of economic optimism, which has also prompted gold investors to sell some of their positions,” said Carsten Menke of Julius Baer.
Another analyst from Commerzbank, Carsten Fritsch, said that “gold’s reputation appears to have been tarnished considerably by the heavy losses of recent weeks, as evidenced by the ongoing outflows from gold ETFs”.
Experts at Investors King believed the growing demand for Bitcoin, now called the new gold, and other cryptocurrencies in recent months by institutional investors is hurting gold attractiveness.
In a recent report, analysts at Citigroup have started projecting mainstream acceptance for the unregulated dominant cryptocurrency, Bitcoin.
The price of Bitcoin has rallied by 60 percent to $52,000 this year alone. While Ethereum has risen by over 660 percent in 2021.
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