US Inflation Remains at 5.4% as Senate Passes Infrastructure Bill


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US Inflation Remains at 5.4% as Senate Passes Infrastructure Bill

US inflation held firm at 5.4% last month, the joint highest for 13 years with pricing pressures now moving beyond those sectors most impacted by the reopening of the economy. Sectors such as travel and dining continued to see strong annualised price rises whilst housing and personal service costs (such as haircuts) also recording meaningful increases [1]. On a positive note and after many months of discussions, last week saw the US Senate pass a circa $1.0tn bipartisan infrastructure bill designed to rebuild critical transportation infrastructure and improve internet in rural areas [2]. 

Global equity markets enjoyed a broadly positive week. In the Eurozone, investors took comfort from stabilising coronavirus cases and the impressive acceleration of its vaccination programme which has now overtaken the US [2]. The MSCI Europe ex UK index climbed by +1.4% whilst in the UK, the large cap index added +1.3%. US equites also continued to tick higher despite covid-19 cases accelerating rapidly once again across huge swathes of the country. The S&P500 rose by +0.7% with most sectors posting positive weekly figures. Meanwhile in Japan, the Nikkei 225 increased by +0.6%.

Moves in the sovereign bond markets were somewhat muted with newsflow relatively limited. The 10-year gilt yield declined by 4 basis points (bps) to 0.58% despite a modest pickup towards the end of the week on the back of strong economic growth data. The equivalent duration treasury yield in the US as well as the 10-year benchmark Eurozone index declined by a single basis point to 1.28% and -0.50% respectively.

Concluding with commodities, oil prices were largely unchanged compared with the previous week with Brent Crude flat at $70.65. Elsewhere, the gold price rose to $1,774 an ounce after a +0.6% weekly gain whilst copper edged +1.0% higher to $9,543 a tonne. The latter increased on the back of supply concerns after workers at a major mine in Chile went on strike [3].

Week Ahead 

CPI inflation is the standout data due from the UK this week with the headline index expected to have declined slightly during July. Unemployment data is also published with the jobless rate forecast to have held firm at 4.8%. Other data to keep an eye on include government borrowing and official retail sales figures. Retail sales data is also due in the US this week whilst building permits and housing starts will bring the housing sector back into focus. The Federal Reserve publishes the minutes from its last policy meeting on Wednesday. 

GDP data is the main figure from the Eurozone this week with the economy forecast to have grown by +2.0% during the second quarter. Japan published its own GDP data during the early hours of Monday morning with growth exceeding the level expected by economists. China has also already published a raft of data with fixed asset investment, industrial production, retail sales and unemployment already released. All four figures missed forecasts with growth rates continuing on their recent deceleration paths. [4]

Read last week's market update

US Jobs Data Impresses as Unemployment Falls Sharply

Market data: FE Analytics
[1] U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 11 August 2021
[2] T. Rowe Price, 13 August 2021
[3], 13 August 2021
[4] Forex Factory, 15 August 2021

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