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Market Update

This morning’s main data release is UK CPI inflation for January. The previous month saw an unexpected fall to 1.3%, the lowest for three years, which had fuelled expectations of a near-term BoE rate cut.

The predictions are a rebound to at least 1.6% last month, thanks to energy prices as a result of: (i) higher petrol prices (up about 2% vs a 1.7% fall in January 2019), and (ii) the introduction of the energy price cap in January 2019 which resulted in a sharp fall of about 6% in gas and electricity prices

The risk to this forecast for headline CPI is, if anything, less than an improvement.

Elsewhere, the main focus in the US is likely to be on the minutes of the last FOMC meeting in January when the target range for interest rates was left at 1.5-1.75%, although it made a technical upward adjustment to the interest rate paid on excess reserves.

Fed Chairman Powell has indicated that it will take a “material reassessment” of the economic outlook to prompt a policy rate change. That material change could come from the impact of the coronavirus, which policymakers are monitoring closely. For now, though, the Fed is firmly in wait-and-see mode.

Markets will also be looking ahead to official retail sales figures tomorrow and the ‘flash’ PMIs on Friday.

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