Whether it was the fact that everyone made their Christmas purchases on Black Friday, or the squeeze to the British public’s pockets (or something else entirely), UK retail sales figures for December were alarmingly disappointing. They had been expected to decline by some 0.6% from November, but they actually fell by 1.5%. Still, the news didn’t have too great a bearing on sterling performance and it made only marginal losses against the dollar.
Overall, last week was a hugely positive one for the pound, as it moved north of $1.39. Could this be the week it breaks through the psychological barrier of $1.40? Who can say? It has been meeting resistance as it approaches that mark, but something could push it through before long. Having said this, it could easily slide back down by quite a margin. If only there were a magic ball to consult.
Tomorrow we’ll see the public sector net borrowing figures, while on Wednesday the unemployment figures for November are released. Mortgage approvals are released on Thursday before the highlight of the week on Friday – the GDP growth rate for the fourth quarter of 2017. Year-on-year, it is expected to slide from 1.7% to 1.4%.