In Anticipation of BOE and ECB's rate decission

Early this morning, Germany released its monthly retail sales report. Despite a predicted drop of 0.5%, retail sales were unexpectedly stable for January, while December gains were revised upwards modestly- fueling hopes that consumer supported recovery may emerge within the coming months. This will be followed by the publication of the entire Euro Zone’s monthly retail sales for January, predicted to show a decrease of 0.3% from the previous month. With no other important news coming out for the rest of the day, investors will turn their attention to tomorrow’s impeding ECB rate announcement. Once again, Jean-Claude Trichet, president of the ECB, is expected to maintain the minimum bid rate at its current record low level of 1.0%.

The ECB’s rate decision will be preceded the Bank of England’s announcement of its overnight rate. The BoE is expected to keep its key lending rate at its current record low level, despite signs that Britain is emerging from the recession at a faster pace than previously anticipated. While the country’s GDP may have grown 0.3% (revised) for the fourth quarter of last year, analysts predict that it is highly unlikely that the central bank will opt to exit its “easy” monetary policy so quickly.

Yesterday, the Sterling plunged to a new 10 month low against the greenback in the forex online market as speculation continued to increase that neither the Labor nor the Conservative party would win an outright majority in Parliament in the coming June election- obstructing efforts to cut the country’s historically high budget deficit. After slipping 1.045% on Monday (at one point diving a record 3% to a $1.4784, its lowest level since April 2009), the GBP continued to fall against its American counterpart yesterday – deprecating an additional 0.2314%, to close at $1.49607.

Despite increasing chances of a “hung” parliament in addition to a plummeting currency, U.K consumer confidence jumped in February to a two-year high. The index of consumer sentiment increased 6 points from the previous month, to a new level of 80.

Yesterday, the U.K released its construction PMI, showing a fall from its previous level of 48.6 to 48.5 (a number greater than 50.0 indicates expansion, while number below shows contraction). Early this morning (930GMT), the U.K will release its Service PMI- while this report is the last PMI for the week, it is the most important. The service sector, which includes the financial sector, was improving up until last month. After falling to 54.5, analysts predict a slight increase of 0.5 points this month, to a new level of 55.0.

The U.S dollar weakened across the board, falling against 15 of its 16 major currency counterparts, following the release of the Bank of Dallas Fed Chairman’s statement that borrowing costs should continue to remain low until the economy picks up- which according to him “won’t happen for some time”.

Later today (1315GMT), the U.S will release its ADP Non-Farm Employment Change. While generally considered a predictive index for Friday’s highly anticipated Change in Non-Farm Payrolls, the ADP is expected to show a drop of 15K. With Payrolls have declined in 24 out of the past 25 months and economists are predicting another decline of 40,000 in February.


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