Pound Weakens as House Prices Decline, Trade Group Sees Risk of Recession
The pound weakened versus the euro after data showed U.K. house prices dropped last month and the British Chambers of Commerce cut its economic-growth forecasts.
The pound also fell against the South African rand and Australian dollar. Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne presents updated economic and fiscal forecasts to Parliament tomorrow amid speculation government growth estimates will be cut and budget shortfalls will be greater than predicted. Gilts declined for a third day on concern the government may have to issue more bonds this year than the 167.5 billion pounds ($261 billion) previously envisaged.
“We have a negative view about the pound,” said Geoffrey Yu, a currency strategist at UBS AG in London. “With the pre- budget statement later in the week, there is going to be more focus on U.K. growth. Credit and housing numbers are probably going to soften. People are going to question growth, and rightly so.”
The pound lost 0.3 percent against the euro to 85.98 pence at 10:15 a.m. London time. It underperformed higher-yielding currencies, declining 1.4 percent to 1.5706 Australian dollars.
Gilts fell, pushing 10-year yields up eight basis points to 2.37 percent. The 3.75 percent bond due September 2021 slid 0.71, or 7.1 pounds per 1,000-pound face amount, to 112.01. Two- year yields rose one basis point to 0.47 percent.
The average cost of a home fell 0.2 percent from October and was down 2.3 percent from a year earlier, Hometrack Ltd. said today in an e-mailed report on its monthly survey of real- estate agents. Prices based on the property researcher’s gauge have fallen every month but one since July 2010.
The BCC said today gross domestic product will increase 0.9 this year, 0.8 percent in 2012 and 1.8 percent in 2013, compared with previous forecasts of 1.1 percent, 2.1 percent and 2.5 percent respectively. It added that the risk of another recession “cannot be shrugged off” and predicted the Bank of England will add to its bond-purchase plan early next year.
The central bank said last week that the threat of the euro-area debt crisis on the U.K. economy has increased. Minutes of the central bank’s Nov. 9-10 meeting released on Nov. 23 showed some policy makers said an increase in stimulus may be needed to support the economy. The minutes also revealed the nine-member Monetary Policy Committee voted unanimously to keep its key interest rate at a record low of 0.5 percent.
Gilts Versus Bunds
Gilts have returned 15 percent this year, according to indexes compiled by Bloomberg and the European Federation of Financial Analysts Societies. German debt gained 6.6 percent and U.S. Treasuries rose 9.4 percent, the indexes show.
Gilts declined as investors unwound long positions ahead of the government’s report tomorrow, said Mohit Kumar, head of European fixed-income strategy at Deutsche Bank AG in London. A long position is a bet that an asset will increase in price.
“Investors are lightening up their gilt positions ahead of tomorrow, and for a good reason,” said Kumar. “Gilts have outperformed bunds recently and are seen as a haven because of the euro-region debt crisis. There’s a risk that growth and funding forecasts tomorrow may raise questions about that safe- haven status.”
Prime Minister David Cameron said last week that bringing Britain’s debt under control is proving “harder than anyone envisaged.”
Ten-year gilts yields were five basis points more than equivalent-maturity German debt today after last week yielding less than bunds for the first time since March 2009.
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Daniel Tilles at firstname.lastname@example.org