The British Pound had a decent start to the week, even if its performance against the US Dollar gives a much-exaggerated picture of its overall strength. GBP/USD opened around 1.4135 and, along with most other currencies, rose steadily and without interruption through the day. By lunchtime in New York, the pair had reached a best level around 1.4245; its highest since the day of the US non-farm payroll figures back on February 2nd. After a quiet night in Asia, however, the GBP has slumped this morning, falling by some distance to the bottom of our one-day performance table. Losses average between four and five-tenths of a point, though GBP/USD is down seven-tenths to 1.4130.
Latest figures show that mortgage approvals fell 11% m/m in February to 38,120, well below consensus expectations for around 39k. UK Finance who compile the data said more home-owners were seeking remortgaging deals ahead of expected further interest rate rises by the Bank of England later this year. “We are also seeing a continuing rise in credit card spending, reflecting the growing number of transactions carried out using cards, while other forms of borrowing such as overdrafts continue to fall.” Net credit card lending amounted to 309 million pounds last month, down slightly from a net increase of 325 million pounds in January. As for house prices, Hometrack today reports price growth in London has hit a seven-year low with prices falling in almost half of all London postcodes, while the market in cities further north is “powering ahead”. The average price of a home in London is £487,900. Edinburgh is enjoying the fastest growth at 8 per cent in the year to February to £277,300. This is followed by 7.8 per cent in Liverpool to £115,700 and 7.7 per cent in Birmingham to £155,600.
An interim report commissioned by the British government from the Migration Advisory Council said warned this morning that firms were not prepared for a tightening labour market. The review - commissioned by Home Secretary Amber Rudd - took views from more than 400 businesses, industry bodies, government departments and other organisations. UK employers see EU workers as "more reliable" and eager than their British counterparts and the MAC said businesses are concerned about their ability to recruit workers from the EU after Britain leaves the European Union. “Lower migration would very likely lead to lower growth in total employment, and lower output growth.” The British Pound opens in North America at USD1.4120, GBP/EUR1.1375 and GBP/CAD1.8160 .