The pound stretched its gains against the dollar on Tuesday as it rose to a two-week high. Comments from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell on Friday continued to suppress the dollar and push up the pound. Speaking at the Jackson Hole economic symposium, Mr Powell had stopped short of signalling a precise timeline for a shift in monetary policy – simply saying it could be “this year”.
In the absence of economic indicators on what was a bank holiday Monday in the UK – and following a week that presented a practically barren data calendar on this side of the Atlantic – the pound was free to cash in on the dollar’s woes.
A smattering of low impact UK data on Tuesday – including mortgage approvals, which fell for a second month in July but remained well above pre-pandemic levels – meant the US calendar was largely in focus.
US home prices increased 18.6% annually in June, up from the 16.8% increase the previous month, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller National Home Price Index – representing the biggest annual gain since the index began in 1987. Prices across the nation are now 41% higher than their previous peak during the 2006 housing boom.
“The last several months have been extraordinary not only in the level of price gains, but in the consistency of gains across the country,” said Craig Lazzara, managing director and global head of index investment strategy at S&P DJI.
US consumer confidence soured last month, dropping to a six-month low as concerns about surging Covid-19 infections and higher inflation clouded the economic outlook. The Conference Board survey on Tuesday showed consumers appear less willing to purchase a home and big-ticket items like motor vehicles and white goods over the next six months, supporting forecasts that consumer spending will ease in Q3 after two consecutive quarters of strong growth. The consumer confidence score for August plummeted to 113.8 – a six-month low – landing well below the 124 consensus.
Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at The Conference Board, said: “Concerns about the Delta variant – and, to a lesser degree, rising gas and food prices – resulted in a less favourable view of current economic conditions and short-term growth prospects,”
The first influential data set of the week from the UK economy is scheduled for release this morning: the Markit Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for August.
A raft of influential indicators are slated for release in the US today, including: ADP Employment Change, Markit Manufacturing PMI, ISM Manufacturing Employment Index, and ISM Manufacturing PMI.