Word of the week Wednesday, strongest reading in a year for this morning's Nationwide House Price Index data, highest level of UK insolvencies in three decades, rising European gas benchmark, and today's data.
Nationwide House Price Index
This morning’s Nationwide House Price Index indicated that prices rose 0.7% on a month-on-month basis, beating expectations of a 0.1% print. This makes the average home worth £257,656, some 0.2% lower than in January 2023, marking the strongest reading in a year.
The article published by Nationwide indicated that there were “signs of easing in affordability pressures” with mortgage rates continuing to trend down. Nevertheless, the publication cited how the recent inflation print which came out stronger-than-expected “cautions that the interest rate outlook remains highly uncertain”.
This morning’s article also cited how the raising a deposit remains a challenging barrier to entry. Here, the article suggested that “raising a deposit also remains a major challenge for those wanting to buy, with a 20% deposit on a typical first-time buyer home equating to c.105%
of average annual gross income”. While this is down from the all-time high of 116% in 2022, it remains pretty well in line with levels seen before the GFC.
Finally, the article highlighted how there were regional disparities in relation to affordability with some of the greatest pressures being felt in London, the south of England and East Anglia.
The stronger print comes as the average 2-year fixed mortgage rate has fallen from 7% last summer to 5.18%, according to Moneyfacts. All eyes are now on the BoE interest rate decision tomorrow, where markets will be looking to gain further insight into the central bank’s future monetary pathway.
According to England and Wales’s Insolvency Service, the number of UK companies going insolvent is at its highest level in three decades. The data released yesterday indicates that as many as one in 186 active firms entered into insolvent liquidation over the course 2023. The article highlighted how this was an increase of 14% from those entering liquidation in 2022.
This comes as companies have grappled with higher borrowing costs, waning consumer activity and levels of inflation not seen for decades. Moreover, given how company insolvency numbers were comparatively low over the coronavirus period, it’s likely that many companies kept afloat merely though government support measures, have since failed when such support was withdrawn.
When looking at industries which suffered the highest level of insolvencies last year, construction, Wholesale and retail trade and accommodation and food service activities recorded the highest.
On the continent, TTF gas futures (the European gas benchmark) rose as much as 3% during yesterday’s session as markets factored in supply side fears. With some 9% of the world’s natural gas ordinarily transiting through the Red Sea, recent fragility in the region has resulted in LNG tankers from Quatar sailing via the Cape of Good Hope instead.
As we looked at earlier this month, natural gas prices recently fell to a six-month low, with EU storage levels exceeding 70%. Storm Isha also increased wind power generation, helping to ease gas prices.
Today’s main event is at 19:30 this evening, with the Federal Reserve’s policy meeting and subsequent press conference. While the market is expecting a further hold from the central bank, attention will turn to gaining any guidance over the extent to which the Fed will cut rates this year.
There continues to be a gulf between implied market expectations of the Fed’s monetary loosening over 2024, for example, while the FOMC have indicated 75bps worth of cuts this year, implied market expectations are signalling over double this level at around 150bps.
Elsewhere, at 13:15, all eyes will be on the US ADP employment print ahead of the string of US labour market data on Friday.
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Thought for Thursday, House of Commons ceasefire vote decision, minutes released from Federal Reserve monetary policy meeting, geo-political update in Russia and Gaza, and looking at today's data.
Word of the week Wednesday, data indicates public sector net borrowing in surplus, this afternoons House of Commons vote for a ceasefire in Gaza, and release of FOMC policy me.eting minutes
Travel Tuesday, changes for China's property market, attacks on Red Sea Vessels cause further shipping disruption, EU defensive naval operation launched, and US propose a UN Security Council Resolution in the Middle East.
Macro Monday, update on Israel-Gaza conflict, town in Ukraine in full control of Russian forces, and pressure for creation of more public-private partnerships in the UK from insurers.
Friday Feeling, Labour take comfort in by-election results, potential for income tax cut plans to be dropped, president of European Commission speaks on European Union defence production.
Thought for Thursday, data released this morning shows UK in technical recession, Sunak's pledge for economic growth takes a blow, increasing number of MPs not looking for re-election for the Conservative party, and Labour party lead drops seven percentage points.
Word of the week Wednesday, hotter than expected US inflation, inflation data in the UK comes in double than BoE's target, US Senate agrees foreign aid package, and today's data.
Travel Tuesday, plight of US commercial real estate owners according to Bloomberg, data shows increase in UK wage growth, easing UK unemployment, and talks to revive negotiations in the Middle East.