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The BoE may cut interest rates this week for first time since July 2003

Economics Weekly: Economic Research and Analysis

The BoE may cut interest rates this week for first time since July 2003
In the euro zone, the ECB is forecast to keep interest rates unchanged at 2.0% on Thursday. There is no press conference so markets will have to wait until September to hear the ECBís assessment on what appears to be a brightening business outlook, and a worsening in inflation fundamentals. The manufacturing and services PMIs will be released today and on Wednesday respectively. A rise in the manufacturing PMI is forecast and should confirm the recent upward bias in the national surveys released last week (IFO, INSEE, ISAE). German industrial output may contribute to the positive tone by showing a monthly rise of almost one percent

The EU-12 unemployment rate is likely to remain unchanged at 8.8% in June and EU-12 producer\ prices are expected to rise 0.2%, bringing the annual rate up to 3.7%. In addition to stronger CPI and M3 money supply data last week, this may stoke further inflationary concerns.

UK/US rate spread is forecast to narrow to 125bp this week, UK/EU gap may narrow to 250bp

Following on from a stronger UK consumer confidence figure published on Friday, retail and manufacturing surveys will be watched closely this week for an update on the state of the UK economy. The results of the surveys may still have consequences for the outcome of the Bank of England interest rate meeting on Thursday, which is viewed as a finely balanced affair. The manufacturing PMI for July is expected to have consolidated around the 49.5 level in July after a strong 2.5pt advance in June. Below 50, this would still point to a manufacturing contraction. On Thursday, the services PMI is also expected to weaken, to 55.3 in July from 55.8 in June, reflecting slower consumer spending. The CBI distributive tradesí survey for July, due tomorrow, will give clues to the retail side of the economy; in the event, anecdotal evidence from the high street suggests the London terror attacks have lowered retail turnover. We are looking for a reading of -16 compared with -19 in June. These weaker outcomes support the view of below trend growth in the UK economy and we, therefore, expect the MPC to cut interest rates by 25bp to 4.50% on Thursday. Other key data is published on Friday - UK industrial production for June, could show 0.3% growth on the month, although the annual rate will remain unchanged at 1.9%. Manufacturing output growth published at the same time is expected to show 0.1% growth on the month and 1.6% on the year.

In the US, the key feature of the week comes on Friday with the publication of the always keenly awaited non-farm payroll data. We expect a robust number of 195,000 jobs to have been created in July, up from 146,000 in June, supported by a sharp 30,000 fall in initial claims in the week that coincided with the cut-off date for payrolls. Employment components of the ISM manufacturing and services surveys will offer a last glimpse at hiring trends before NFP is released. Our forecast shows a rise in the ISM manufacturing index to 54.1 in July, but by contrast, a weakening in the ISM non-manufacturing index to 61.5. A further flattening of the yield curve can be expected if the monthly PCE deflator reaffirms the benign inflation environment and, on Friday, it emerges that the economy continued to add jobs at a rate close to the 6-month average of 180,000.
Nichola James, Senior Economist
Kenneth Broux, Economist

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