The UK economy continues to grapple with stubborn inflationary pressures, leading experts to anticipate additional interest rate hikes in the Bank of England's (BoE) July and August statements. Despite forecasts indicating a slight drop, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) data released on June 21st surprised analysts by holding steady at 8.7% year-on-year. The underlying core reading, which excludes volatile food and fuel costs, rose to 6.5% from 6.2%, signalling that inflation is deeply rooted in the UK economy, surpassing levels observed in other regions such as the US and Europe. As a result, market expectations now suggest that interest rates may reach 6.25% by the end of the year, a significant upgrade from previous predictions.
Elevated Pound and Concerns Over Long-Term Impact
Throughout June, the pound remained strong as inflation exceeded targets, prompting the BoE to implement an unexpected 50-basis-point rate hike. This move brought interest rates to 5% for the first time in almost 15 years. GBPUSD surpassed US$1.28, while GBPEUR climbed above €1.17 in the middle of the month. However, concerns arise regarding the long-term consequences of these developments. As more individuals transition from low-rate mortgages to refinancing options with rates not witnessed since the Global Financial Crisis of 2008, potential repercussions on the economy loom. Despite the economy surpassing previous expectations a few months ago, there are predictions of a possible recession in the second half of the year.
Upcoming CPI Reading and Future Rate Hikes
The forthcoming CPI reading, scheduled for July 19th, holds great significance. Both BoE Governor Andrew Bailey and UK consumers hope for a decline in both the overall and core readings. However, despite the data's outcome, it is highly likely that an interest rate increase will occur in August, as even if inflation moderates, it will still remain significantly above the BoE's 2% target.
Persistent inflationary pressures continue to pose challenges to the UK economy, fueling expectations of further rate hikes by the Bank of England. The surprise 50-basis-point increase in interest rates, driven by the unexpectedly high CPI data, has provided support for the pound. However, concerns regarding the long-term impact on the economy persist, with the possibility of a recession looming. The upcoming CPI reading will be closely watched, but regardless of its outcome, another interest rate rise is likely in August, given that inflation remains well above the BoE's target. It is crucial to monitor economic developments and the BoE's decisions as the UK navigates these inflationary challenges.