Sterling slips as weak wage data counters bets on BoE shift

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Posted: Sep. 12, 2017 8:00 am Updated: Sep.

Haldane was previously known as one of the more dovish members of the nine-strong MPC, but he said in July that he expected to back a rate increase later this year after inflation picked up.

The spiralling costs of mobile phones aside, the United Kingdom consumer price index is expected to see a modest increase in August, with headline inflation having surprised by holding steady at 2.6% in July, and prices then actually falling month-on-month by 0.1%.

The UK's headline inflation rate figure rose to its highest level in five years, printing at 2.9% in August, beating expectations of 2.8% and indeed the previous period's 2.6%.

Against the euro, the pound put up a "sterling" performance to trade 0.08% higher to 1.1110, with the single currency very much on the backfoot for the day as it fell a significant 0.61% against the U.S. dollar to 1.1895, after trading just shy of the 1.2000 mark in the morning.

While some analysts suggest that the sharp rise in inflation is unlikely to be sustainable as it a effect of the Pound's recent devaluation, some experts argue that Sterling's Brexit losses may not be entirely priced into inflation yet and that it could rise further over the coming months. That complicates the job faced by policymakers of explaining why they are not raising interest rates. The outcome of 0.2% was below its estimate and showed inflation remains near a standstill. The Bank of England targets inflation at 2%. The BoE has been keen to highlight the danger of interest rate complacency by pointing out that rates will have to rise at some point.

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Sterling could see a further hike if more than two members of the Bank's Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) vote for the base rate to rise.

"Lagging wages makes it more likely the Bank of England will look through rising inflation when it decides on interest rates this week", said Ed Monk (pictured) of fund manager Fidelity International.

Top economists at the Bank of England may have to reconsider their positions on monetary policy ahead of tomorrow's announcement, as data today showed disappointing United Kingdom wage growth. On the other hand, consumer confidence is weak, there are signs of weakness in the housing market, service sector business surveys remain subdued and there has been scant progress in the Brexit negotiations, keeping uncertainty elevated'. Risk management is urged for those considering trades of the British currency.

Sam Hill, an economist with RBC Capital Markets, said the BoE had been expecting inflation of 2.7pc in August and while no change in rates was likely this week, the inflation reading was a challenge for the central bank. The lower pound has made imports, especially of food and energy, more expensive.

Rate setters have remained comfortable looking through the above-target inflation due to the impact of sterling weakness.