Currency Note

ONS reveal UK’s public finances in surplus of £5.4bn

By Christopher Nye February 21st, 2023

Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveal the UK’s public finances were in surplus by £5.4bn last month, marking the first time in a year.

The pound weakened against a few of its rivals on Monday, including the US dollar and canadian dollar. Investors will be looking out for the latest inflation and retail sales figures from Canada, which are scheduled to be released this afternoon, to see if the data will have any impact on sterling.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the UK’s public finances were in surplus for the first time in a year last month as the government spent less than it gained from taxpayers.

The difference between generated revenue and funds spent hit £5.4bn, largely driven by a big surge in self-employed people paying HMRC.

Scotland’s health secretary, Humza Yousaf, and former community safety minister, Ash Regan, both entered the Scottish National Party leadership race to replace Nicola Sturgeon as SNP leader and Scotland’s first minister yesterday. Both candidates will have until this Friday to secure 100 nominations from a minimum of 20 local branches to secure their place on the ballot. The new SNP leader will be announced on March 27.

The latest ZEW Indicator of Economic Sentiment for Germany will be released at 10am today. Markets are expecting the index to climb to 21.5 after rising sharply by 40.2 points to +16.9 in January. Investors will see if the economic outlook for Europe’s largest economy continues to improve shortly.

In European equity markets, France’s CAC 40 index fell approximately  0.2%, closing at 7,336 on Monday. This extended Friday’s losses and was in line with most of its European peers.

Meanwhile, London’s FTSEE 100 ended virtually flat on Monday. This was largely due to gains among materials and financials stocks offsetting losses in real estate.

All eyes will look towards the Federal Reserve’s Open Market Committee (FOMC) on Wednesday when they are scheduled to release minutes from their latest meeting.

In a speech at the Economic Club of Washington the Fed’s Chair Jerome Powell reiterated that the disinflationary process has begun, particularly in the goods sector.

Dollar-watchers will be listening keenly for any comments that may impact the US dollar.

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GBP: Quiet data week for sterling-watchers

It is a calm week for economic data releases in the UK, however market participants will still be watching closely for key releases across the pond and overseas that may impact sterling’s competitors. Sterling-watchers will also be paying attention to the latest CBI’s Industrial Trends Survey which will be released at 11am.

GBP/USD over the past year

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EUR: Germany’s economic data dominates markets

Over the coming days market-watchers will look to Germany for several important data releases that will give investors clues on the economic health of the world’s fourth-largest economy. This includes the Ifo business climate and Germany’s latest year-on-year and quarter-on-quarter GDP figures.

USD: Personal spending to rise

It is a similar story for the United States who will be releasing their latest personal income and personal spending data on Friday.

In the previous data, personal income in the US climbed a gentle 0.2% (in December 2022) following a downwardly revised 0.3% increase in November. This pointed to the smallest gain since April 2022, and markets anticipate that this Friday’s figures will continue to climb (+0.7%.)

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