UK inflation holds steady in March amid Brexit uncertainty
UK inflation holds steady in March amid Brexit uncertainty
Employment rate remains at a joint record high
18 April, 2019, 13:40
British annual inflation was unchanged in March, official data showed Wednesday, easing the pressure on the Bank of England to hike rates amid ongoing uncertainty over Brexit.
Retail sales volumes surged by the most in almost two-and-a-half years in annual terms, leaping by 6.7 percent.
The March reading easily outshone analysts' consensus forecast for an increase of just 0.3 percent, according to a Bloomberg poll.
Year-on-year growth in the quantity bought increased by 6.7% in March, the highest since October 2016, with a range of stores noting that the milder weather this year helped boost sales in comparison with the Beast from the East affecting shopper behaviour at the same time last year.
Sterling inched up 0.1 percent to $1.3066 by 0800 GMT, while against a stronger euro it fell 0.3 percent to 86.735 pence. Britain was due to leave the European Union on March 29 but it was postponed as Parliament failed to back Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal.
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"Although securing a Brexit extension means we have averted an economic crisis, politicians must now come together and avoid a no deal scenario or risk impacting the UK's stellar labour market".
"However, a word of warning: credit card defaults in the United Kingdom have risen significantly in the first quarter and sit at the highest level since 2015, which could threaten the brighter-than-expected retail picture".
"I think that sterling is a risky currency just purely because it runs a 4.5 percent current account deficit", veteran hedge fund manager Crispin Odey told Reuters.
In contrast, this year Britain enjoyed warm weather in March.
"That reflects a slow recovery from a decade-long wage squeeze and, perhaps, a willingness to look through the apparently never-ending uncertainty that is Brexit". Similar data from the British Retail Consortium also suggested that spending was more muted during March, aside from some increased purchases related to Mother's Day.
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