UK

London skyline showing the financial district

The Office for National Statistics revealed in April to June 2023, the annual growth rate for regular pay (excluding bonuses) was 7.8%. This is the highest annual growth rate in regular pay since comparable records began in 2001. Total pay, which includes bonuses, increased 8.2%. The annual rate in total pay was lifted by one-off bonus payments by the government to NHS staff in June. The more recent July numbers from HMRC indicated a slowdown in median pay growth, providing some solace.

Curiously, wage growth figures appear to have coincided with a decrease in labour market strength. Over the three months leading up to the end of May, the UK unemployment rate increased from 4% to 4.2%. This rise is the sharpest since the three months ending in October 2021 and occurred more quickly than the Bank of England had predicted. The Bank of England projected the unemployment rate to remain below 4% until the end of 2024 in its May monetary report. HMRC numbers and a loosening in the labour market may suggest a more cautious stance could be taken with regards to raising rates. However, it’s more likely the Bank of England will remain focused on its mandated 2% inflation target. With consumer price inflation confirmed as 6.8% down from June’s 7.9%, there appears to be a need for a further rate hike.

Although the government cannot directly manage inflation, they understand fulfilling the inflation pledge is important to voters. Election fortunes are closely tied to actions taken by the Bank of England with Jeremy Hunt remarking last week “while prices are slowing, we’re not at the finish line. We must stick to our plan to half inflation this year and get it back to 2%”.

US

New York skyline

The two-day Federal Reserve meeting concluded with a 0.25% increase in interest rates. The latest increase brings the target range for the funds rate to 5.25% to 5.50%. Minutes emphasised upside risk to inflation remains opening the door to additional hikes. All members were in agreement about the decision to increase rates, although two members suggested it may have been premature.

Last week, market one year since the Inflation Reduction Act was passed into law, aimed at assisting the Federal Reserve in combating inflation. The name has posed a branding challenge with Joe Biden himself admitting “I wish I hadn’t called it that, because it has less to do with inflation than it has to do with providing alternatives that generate economic growth”. The act reflected an inflection point in US climate policy by dedicating $369 billion to clean energy initiatives. While the act may not have reduced inflation over the last year it has made the US an appealing destination for clean tech manufacturing companies due to the range of tax incentives available.

Amidst the coverage of the Federal Reserve meeting and Inflation Reduction Act, numerous reports highlighted remarks from a Fitch ratings analyst. The analyst cautioned if the broader banking industry faces another downgrade, credit ratings of many US banks may need to be re-evaluated.

Europe

EU flags

Gross Domestic Product in Europe expanded 0.30% in the second quarter of 2023. Industrial production increased 0.5% on the month, surpassing expectations for a 0.2% rise and achieved despite falling output in France and Germany.

China

China

As China’s economy struggles to find momentum, China’s central bank has stepped in to defend the renminbi. The daily midpoint for the renminbi was set at 7.2006 against the dollar, while the Hang Seng benchmark index closed in bear market territory in the Friday session, more than 20% below its last highs set in January. China unexpectedly lowered its medium term financing rate by 15 basis points to 2.5%, earlier last week. At the time of writing China has announced a similar reduction in the one year loan prime rate by 10 basis points, but has kept the five year loan prime rate unchanged at 4.2%.

FTSE 100 Weekly Winners and Losers
Year to Date Market Performance
Painting easel and paints infront a scenic backdrop of mountains

Portfolio management as artistry

Just as a painter uses different colours to convey different emotions, we can evaluate specific traits that historically influence returns.

Weekly Digest

6 min read

Further analysis

From updates on the economy and markets, to guidance on tax and retirement planning, find more to read and watch here.

Important information

The information in this document is for private circulation and is believed to be correct but cannot be guaranteed. Opinions, interpretations and conclusions represent our judgment as of this date and are subject to change. The Company and its related Companies, directors, employees and clients may have positions or engage in transactions in any of the securities mentioned. Past performance is not necessarily a guide to future performance. The value of shares, and the income derived from them, may fall as well as rise. The information contained in this publication does not constitute a personal recommendation and the investment or investment services referred to may not be suitable for all investors. Copyright Investec Wealth & Investment Limited. Reproduction is prohibited without permission.

Investec Wealth & Investment (UK) is a trading name of Investec Wealth & Investment Limited which is a subsidiary of Rathbones Group Plc. Investec Wealth & Investment Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and is registered in England. Registered No. 2122340. Registered Office: 30 Gresham Street. London. EC2V 7QN.