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UK PMI Data, Food Price Inflation and Oil Prices

PMI's higher-than-expected, UK has highest food price inflation in G7, and oil prices dip to lowest level in last 5 months.

UK PMI Data Shows First Expansion Since July

Yesterday, UK services PMI data came in marginally higher-than-expected hitting 50.9 against forecasts of 50.5. This also marked a sizeable increase from last month’s contractionary print of 49.5 seen and was the first expansion seen since July. The accompanying report highlighted how higher levels of activity were driven by an increase in demand and the completion of projects. Demand for British exports also rose as anecdotal evidence indicated that there was a rise in demand from firms on the continent “despite ongoing constraints from Brexit trade frictions”, it said.  Nevertheless, the report also mentioned ‘lacklustre’ spending as business and consumer confidence failed to gather substantive steam.

Regarding inflation, the data suggested that “service providers indicated another sharp increase in their average cost burdens during November.” This came as higher wage bills fed into firms’ expenses, though it remained the second lowest print since March 2021 with lower raw material prices helping to ease overall cost pressures.

Commenting on the data, the Economics Director at S&P Global Market, Tim Moore wrote how “despite tentative signs of a turnaround in new orders, survey respondents once again commented on a lack of willingness to spend among clients. Many firms noted that low levels of business and consumer confidence, alongside elevated borrowing costs, had constrained sales opportunities in November. Overseas markets continued to show resilience, with strengthening US demand often cited as a driver of increased new export orders”.

OECD: UK Inflation Highest in G7

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development have said that the UK is the G7 country where food price inflation is in double digits. The OECD noted that average food price inflation across the 38 states it tracks slowed to 7.4%, with only Turkey, Iceland and Colombia having a more pronounced level of inflation than the UK in the OECD.

When compared against its North American counterparts, UK food inflation looks particularly troublesome. For example, in the US food price inflation is currently at 2% while it slowed to 5.4% in Canada.

High levels of food price inflation in the UK is indicative of inflationary pressures more generally compared against other G7 states. For example, UK households still face the highest level of headline inflation across the G7 while Moody’s have forecasted that we will have the greatest rate of inflation in the group for at another year.


Oil Prices Slip Close to Five Month Lows

Oil prices have extended losses with WTI crude futures dipping close to their lowest level in five months, nearing $72.0 dpb overnight. This comes as markets adjust their thinking on OPEC+ output cuts and crude fuel stockpiles rising last week across the US.

Adding to this, oil prices slipped on Moody’s downward revision of Chinese growth as they cut their outlook to negative. Given that China is the world’s largest importer of crude oil (accounting for around 25% of global crude imports), any indication that demand could be suppressed from the world’s second largest economy tends to put pressure on oil prices.

Today will see the release of Eurozone retail sales released at 10:00. Here, the general market consensus is forecasting a contractionary print of -1.1% on an annualised basis. While this would mark an improvement to last month’s -2.9%, it nonetheless is indicative of how consumer spending is adjusting to changing economic conditions with rates at their highest level in 22 years. This will be followed by US ADP Employment figures at 13:15 ahead of the Bank of Canada’s interest rate decision at 15:00.

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