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Andy Bruce

Charity shops, antiques behind surprise UK retail sales jump in June

5:33am EDT

LONDON British retail sales rebounded unexpectedly in June, driven by sales of antiques and second-hand clothes, raising hopes that a downturn in the second quarter could be softer than previously expected.

Charity shops, antiques behind surprise UK retail sales jump in June

5:25am EDT

LONDON British retail sales rebounded unexpectedly in June, driven by sales of antiques and second-hand clothes, raising hopes that a downturn in the second quarter could be softer than previously expected.

UPDATE 1-Charity shops, antiques behind surprise UK retail sales jump in June

5:21am EDT

(Adds reaction) By Andy Bruce and Jonathan Cable LONDON, July 18 British retail sales rebounded unexpectedly in June, driven by sales of antiques and second-hand clothes, raising hopes that a downturn in the second quarter could be softer than previously expected. Sterling jumped to a day's high against the dollar after the figures showed monthly retail sales volumes jumped 1.0%, well above all forecasts in a Reuters poll of economists that had pointed to a 0.3% drop. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said sales were up by 3.8% compared with June 2018, again stronger than all forecasts. Many economists think Britain's economy is in danger of shrinking in the second quarter, a hangover from the stockpiling boom that took place ahead of the original Brexit deadline in March. But the unexpected strength of retail sales in June could help to reduce that risk. The ONS linked the upturn to demand for second-hand goods from charity shops and auctions of antiques. "The resilience of the consumer in the face of ongoing political uncertainty is both surprising and admirable, suggesting that despite heightened levels of uncertainty people are keeping calm and carrying on," David Cheetham, analyst from online broker XTB, said. However, retail sales over the three months to the end of June grew by just 0.7%, the weakest reading since the three months to February. The figures for June clashed with a British Retail Consortium survey that showed sales fell at the fastest annual pace on record for that month. Some sectors did not enjoy a rebound last month, the official data showed. Department store sales declined for a sixth consecutive month, the worst such run in records that date back to the late 1980s. Until recently, consumers have so far largely taken Brexit in their stride, helped by modest inflation and stronger growth in wages. That has helped the world's fifth-biggest economy at a time when many companies have been cutting back on investment because of uncertainty about Brexit. Stable inflation, a steady rise in wages and the lowest unemployment since 1975 have continued to boost household incomes, although after inflation wages are still below their peak before the financial crisis. But there have been other signs consumers are turning more cautious as Britain's political crisis drags on. The two contenders to become prime minister next week have both said they are willing to take Britain out of the European Union without a transition deal, if necessary. Major British retailers have reported mixed fortunes of late. Health store Boots has warned of the risk of recession in Britain, while on Thursday fashion retailer ASOS dented profit expectations, saying problems in ramping up warehouses in the United States and Germany had hit sales and increased costs. (Reporting by Andy Bruce; Editing by Jon Boyle)

London house prices fall at fastest rate in a decade

Jul 17 2019

LONDON House prices in London fell at the fastest pace in almost 10 years in May, according to official data that also showed inflation hitting the Bank of England's 2% target for a second month running in June.

UPDATE 1-London house prices fall at fastest rate in a decade

Jul 17 2019

* London house prices down 4.4% y/y * UK house price growth slows to 1.2% * Brexit and high valuations weigh on capital * Consumer price inflation hits BoE's 2% target again * Rare input price fall points to weak inflation pressure (Adds reaction, graphic) By Andy Bruce and William Schomberg LONDON, July 17 House prices in London fell at the fastest pace in almost 10 years in May, according to official data that also showed inflation hitting the Bank of England's 2% target for a second month running in June. House prices in London - which have been hit by worries about Brexit and its impact on the city's attractiveness as a global finance centre - slid by 4.4% in annual terms, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said. That marked the biggest fall since August 2009. Reflecting the weakness in the property market since the Brexit referendum more than three years ago, house price growth across the United Kingdom as a whole slowed to 1.2%, matching February's six-year low. Some other surveys have suggested that the market might be borrowing out and analysts said London's dip was not likely to be followed by the rest of the country. "The downturn in London probably isn't a sign of an impending slump elsewhere, but instead reflects the slowdown in net migration, a glut of new-build flats and valuations correcting from excessively stretched levels," said Samuel Tombs, economist at consultancy Pantheon Macroeconomics. London house prices are now 6.4% below their July 2017 peak, a disappointment to some homeowners but a much smaller fall than the 17.8% peak-to-trough hit during the global financial crisis. Furthermore, the current downturn in the capital represents only a small hit given that London house prices have almost doubled since the financial crisis, leaving the city unaffordable for many buyers. Zoopla, an online property portal, said it the breadth of price falls across London's boroughs was narrowing and it expected the price declines to moderate over 2019 and 2020. BANK OF ENGLAND UNDER NO PRESSURE ON INFLATION Separate data from the ONS published on Wednesday showed not only stable consumer price inflation at 2.0%, but also weaker pipeline price pressures faced by British factories. "While the UK consumer price inflation backdrop appears relatively benign, the fact that wage growth is holding up suggests it's too early to be thinking about rate cuts," ING economist James Smith said. "But the increasing uncertainty surrounding Brexit suggests policy tightening is equally unlikely this year." Some investors think the BoE's next move might be to cut rates as the prospect of an economically damaging no-deal Brexit grows and U.S.-China trade tensions slow the global economy. On the other hand, households, whose spending drives Britain's economy, are have been helped by wages rising at their fastest pace in a decade, with unemployment at a 44-year low, as well as by modest inflation. The ONS said producer input costs, which eventually feed through into prices on the high street, fell 0.3% in annual terms in June, the first decline in three years. The pound and British government bonds were little moved by the data, which aside from weaker-than-expected factory input cost readings were as expected in a Reuters poll of economists. (Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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UK economy may need more help as trade war, Brexit risks grow-BoE's Carney

Jul 02 2019

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Jun 26 2019

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Jun 21 2019

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Bank of England chops second-quarter growth forecast, sees bigger global and Brexit risks

Jun 20 2019

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