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UK Inflation Surges, Gilts May Worsen After CPI Data

UK inflation exceeds forecasts, challenging BOE's rate cut expectations and impacting global markets.

By Mackenzie Crow

4/17, 02:20 EDT
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Key Takeaway

  • UK's March inflation exceeded forecasts, challenging BOE's control path with core CPI at 4.2% and services around 6%.
  • Unexpected inflation data pushed the British pound up and led to a reassessment of anticipated BOE rate cuts, affecting gilt yields.
  • Persistent UK inflation impacts global markets, evidenced by ASML's booking miss and a significant drop in the MSCI Emerging Markets Index.

Inflation Surprises in the UK

The United Kingdom's latest inflation data has exceeded forecasts for March, with core inflation persisting above 4% and the services gauge remaining around 6%. These figures challenge the earlier expectations of achieving a 2% inflation rate by spring, indicating a deviation from the anticipated path towards inflation control. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose by 3.2% year-over-year, slightly above the estimated 3.1%, while the core CPI, which excludes volatile items such as food and energy, increased by 4.2% year-over-year, against expectations of a 4.1% rise. This data suggests that inflationary pressures in the UK are more persistent than previously thought, potentially influencing future monetary policy decisions by the Bank of England (BOE).

Market Reactions and Monetary Policy Implications

Following the release of the inflation data, the British pound experienced an uptick, reversing its prior losses. This reaction underscores the market's sensitivity to inflation indicators and their implications for monetary policy. Before the data was published, traders were anticipating the BOE to initiate interest rate cuts by September. However, the unexpected inflation figures have led to a reassessment of these expectations, with the yield on two-year gilts increasing by approximately 30 basis points this month. The overnight indexed swaps have also adjusted, reducing the likelihood of a cumulative loosening in monetary policy for the year. These developments reflect the market's recalibration in response to the persistent inflationary environment in the UK.

Broader Market Impacts and Sectoral Insights

The inflation data and its subsequent impact on currency and gilt markets have broader implications for the European and global financial landscape. For instance, ASML, a leading semiconductor company, reported first-quarter bookings that fell short of market expectations, affecting Euro Stoxx 50 futures. Despite this, ASML remains optimistic about a recovery in the second half of the year, highlighting the ongoing volatility and recovery potential within the semiconductor sector. Additionally, the MSCI Emerging Markets Index experienced a significant drop, its largest since January 17, driven by concerns over global monetary policy and China's economic slowdown. This underscores the interconnectedness of global markets and the influence of monetary policy decisions and economic indicators on financial stability and sectoral performance.