Published: 23/05/2022 By ECAPUK data continued to suggest a dichotomy between sentiment and reality. Consumer sentiment was dismal, but jobs data came out very strong, as did retail sales. Inflation in April was sky high, as
expected. Sterling bounced back in line with the general dollar selloff and managed some gains against the euro as well. Markets suggest there is little to confirm the likelihood of a potential recession, and this week's PMI data should be further evidence. It seems that the Bank of England's apparent willingness to tolerate inflation due to the risks to growth is misplaced. In the short-term, Bank of England dovishness may weigh on the pound, but after the recent sell-off we think that the currency is quite cheap and offers a solid opportunity over the longer term.
Strong US retail sales last week confirmed that so far there is little sign that higher prices are doing much to deter the US consumer. However, it is a volatile indicator and one cannot extract a lot of information from a single print. US yields fell in sympathy with stocks, and for now the US dollar seems to have recoupled to rate differentials with the rest of the world, so it fell as well. On tap for this week is the publication of the minutes for the last meeting of the Federal Reserve, which markets expect to reiterate that the next two hikes are likely to be "doubles", i.e., 50 bp. However, all of this is already priced in by markets, and it will be difficult for US short term rates to price in any more.
The retreat of the ECB doves in the face of inflationary reality accelerated last week, as the hawkish Dutch member of the council suggested that not only is a July hike a near certainty, but a 50 bp hike could be on the cards. This is happening at the same time US short term rates are having trouble pushing higher, partially because so much is priced in on the part of the Federal Reserve. As a result, interest rate differentials across the Atlantic have shrunk and are no higher now than in March.