The publication of a draft EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement puts down on paper the debates of the last 18 months. Its progress is far from assured, but we were also given a glimpse of what the future might look like from the accompanying political declaration. Here’s our take on the key points along with the latest UK data.
UK GDP growth picked up in Q3 but this bounce is likely to be fleeting, judging from latest downbeat business surveys.
The Bank of England’s latest forecasts show inflation staying above the 2% target, despite rising UK rate expectations. Prices should get a further boost from the looser fiscal policy announced in the Budget. But, as ever, all those forecasts hinge on a smooth Brexit.
The US economy is motoring along, driven by recent tax cuts, keeping the Fed on course for further gradual tightening in coming months. However, signs of weakness in the Euro area mean a rate hike is some way off.
Good news for the consumer. Not only have average UK earnings posted their largest rise since 2009 but inflation fell more than expected, boosting hopes the recent real income squeeze is coming to an end.
UK growth has picked up a bit of speed in Q3, judging from latest monthly GDP figures, with strength widespread. However, recent favourable weather flattered the headline rate, so a moderation in growth looks likely in Q4.
Latest monthly UK PMI surveys were upbeat, hinting at firmer Q3 GDP. Increasing skill shortages suggest a pick-up in wage growth in coming months, supportive for cash strapped consumers.
The UK recovery remains imbalanced. Consumer spending rebounded in Q2 but investment weakened. Ongoing Brexit uncertainty continues to overhang the corporate sector.
Stronger than expected UK inflation data increases the odds of another modest BoE rate hike next year, but the impasse in latest EU/UK Brexit talks means a BoE move is unlikely before spring 2019, at the earliest.
As expected the BoE kept its powder dry following August’s rate hike. Meanwhile, the ECB remains on course to halt QE by year-end but tame inflation suggests a rate hike is some way off. In contrast, the Fed looks odds on to tighten policy further later this month.