Economics of the GBP

The British Pound's Presence Globally

The British Pound is third only to the US and the Euro in terms of the currency reserves held in GBP around the globe. The Bank of England has been operating since the late 1600s, but wasn't nationalized until the mid 1900s. The Bank of England is responsible for determining England's monetary policy, which is key to the positioning of the Pound on a global level. Various economic and political factors combine to drive the ever-changing value of the GBP, but key to traders are the many economic indicators pertinent to the British economy. Some of the relevant economic indicators to the GBP are released directly through the Bank of England, while others are released from private data analysis firms.

Each of the economic indicators listed and described below have the potential to affect the price and stability of the GBP upon their release. There are other indicators that are directly relevant to the GBP that are not listed below.

The economic indicators outlined below can potentially move the price of any currency pair the GBP is involved with. These currency pairs include:

GBP/USD ~ EUR/GBP ~ GBP/JPY ~ GBP/CHF

Some of the below reports are commonly released by most economic powers around the globe, others are specific only to the British Economy. The reports are listed in alphabetical order, for more on the report and its strength ranking take a look at each individual indicator description below. For the date and time of the next release for each report please browse our current economic calendar.

Reports Listed in Alphabetical Order

Average Earnings Index + Bonus q/y

AEI (Average Earnings Index) is a measurement of averages wages + bonuses paid to employees on a quarterly basis. The indicator compares the results of a new quarter not to that of the most recent quarter, but rather to that same quarter the year prior.

BOE Inflation Rate

(+) BOE Inflation Rate The Bank of England publishes an Inflation Rate Statement each quarter. The purpose of the statement and data included therein is to outline the various methods of economic analysis that will be used by the bank's Monetary Policy Committee to later determine potential changes to interest rates. The publication will also include projections for the coming two years and potential inflation rates.

BOE Meeting Minutes

BOE Meeting Minutes is an exact transcript of the Bank of England's meeting, usually held about two weeks prior. The transcript offers a record of official voting as it pertains to changes in interest rates and other fiscal policy. Though very straightforward in its content, this report is considered one of key importance to the British economy and the strength of the Pound.

BRC Retail Sales Monitor y/y

BRC stands for British Retail Consortium. In conducting the Retail Sales Monitor the BRC surveys retailers in an effort to gauge sales increases or decreases seen over the previous year. Retailers that have been open for less than are of course excluded from the survey. This indicator examines annual trends seen in retail sales.

CBI Distributive Traders Expected q/q

CBI stands for the Confederation of British Industry. In this indicator executives are surveyed on expected sales numbers for the coming year. As is the case with most economic indicators, specifically those that are considered leading indicators, expectations are often everything. Though simply stated, a positive trend seen in this indicator should positively affect the nation's economy; high expectations for the coming year may have positive short term implications for the economy, but if sales numbers in fact do not increase and thus expectations are not met, overzealous numbers seen in this indicator could potentially damage the economy.

CBI Distributive Trades Realized

CBI stands for the Confederation of British Industry. In this indicator executives are surveyed on the sales numbers of their firms. More specifically, they are asked whether their firm saw an increase or a decrease in sales in comparison to the previous year. The collected data of this indicator gives traders a look at the economy in relation to the retail sector. An increasing trend would of course positively affect an economy, as Retail Sales account for a large portion of consumer spending; and consumer spending is a very key source of economic strength, or if consumer spending is low, economic instability.

Claimant Count Change

This indicator is a measurement of the number of people within the British economy claiming unemployment related benefits (data is for the month prior). A drive down in the trends of this indicator would of course positively impact the position of the nation's currency. This is because of the simple fact that those who are employed tend to spend more than those who are not. Low unemployment rates translate to increased levels of consumer spending, which of course accounts for a large portion of many other economic indicators.

Core CPI y/y

CPI stands for Consumer Price Index, a fundamental indicator that establishes the rate of price inflation or price increase as seen by consumers when purchasing goods and services. Core CPI as released by the British government excludes energy, food, tobacco and alcohol items from collected data, as they are considered more volatile and can thus skew overall inflation trends. With the exclusion of volatile food and energy items, Core CPI shows a smoother trend than does normal CPI. The Consumer Price Index is touted as a timely and detailed inflation indicator. Typically, it is assumed that a rising trend in CPI will positively impact a nation's currency. Central banks are most concerned with price stability. If inflation rates are continually rising interest rates will likely be increased in an effort to bring prices back down. Globally, increased interest rates are said to entice foreign investment flows, which would of course, in turn, increase the demand and the standing of a nation's currency on a global scale. CPI is a well respected fundamental indicator and is ranked highly in terms of its potential impact in the market.

CPI y/y

CPI stands for Consumer Price Index, a fundamental indicator that establishes the rate of price inflation or price increase as seen by consumers when purchasing goods and services. The Consumer Price Index is touted as a timely and detailed inflation indicator. Typically, it is assumed that a rising trend in CPI will positively impact a nation's currency. Central banks are most concerned with price stability. If inflation rates are continually rising interest rates will likely be increased in an effort to bring prices back down. Globally, increased interest rates are said to entice foreign investment flows, which would of course, in turn, increase the demand and the standing of a nation's currency on a global scale. CPI is a well respected fundamental indicator and is ranked highly in terms of its potential impact in the market.

GDP q/q

(+) GDP q/q Gross Domestic Product is considered by most the broadest, most comprehensive barometer of a country's overall economic condition. It measures the sum of all market values on final goods and services produced in a country (domestically) during a specific period of time. A rising trend seen in a country's GDP of course indicates that the economy of said country is improving; as a result foreign investors are more inclined to seek investment opportunities within that nation's bond and stock markets. It is not uncommon to see interest rate hikes as a follow-up to a rising GDP, as central banks will have an increased confidence in their own growing economies. The combination of a rising GDP and potentially higher interest rates can lead to an increase in demand for that nation's currency on a global scale.

Industrial Production

Industrial production is a measurement of the cumulative dollar amount of product produced by factories and other industrial production facilities. Increased levels of production would of course signify a strengthening economy, thus an increased trend seen in this indicator should positively affect the position of a nation's currency. Industrial production is closely tied with personal income, manufacturing employment and average earnings in that its quick reaction to the business cycle often allows for a preemptive leading look into these indicators.

Interest Rate Statement

The Monetary Policy Committee of the Bank of England (BOE) publishes an Interest Rate Statement every month. Perhaps at the core of all economic indicators are those that relate to interest rate decisions. In fact, most would argue that other economic indicators are used by the average trader as nothing more than a means to anticipate pending interest rate changes. The bulk of the statement includes an explanation of the various economic factors that influenced the change in rates (or lack thereof) for the nation's short term interest rate, also referred to as the "bank rate". The report will also include insight as to what the next interest rate decision might be. Short term interest rates are of monumental importance to traders in any of the major financial markets.

Central banks are most concerned with price stability. If inflation rates are continually rising interest rates will likely be increased in an effort to bring prices back down. Globally, increased interest rates are said to entice foreign investment flows, which would of course, in turn, increase the demand and the standing of a nation's currency on a global scale. Seasoned economists understand the relationship between inflation and interest rates, namely that inflation tends to precede higher interest rates, which ultimately increases the global demand for a nation's currency.

Manufacturing PMI

PMI stands for Purchasing Managers Index. Before the report is published purchasing managers are surveyed on the present situation of economic factors relevant to their position, factors such as new orders, inventories, production, employment, etc. Traders tend to keep an eye on this indicator because it tends to lead (leading indicator) into data that will later be released. This is because purchasing managers have an early view at the performance of their company. The indicator uses a reading of 50 to measure expansion, or the lack thereof. A reading above 50 would indicate economic expansion.

Manufacturing Production

This indicator is a measurement of the total value of output (produced materials) by manufacturers within the sub-sector of production. It is important to note that while this indicator is very similar to Industrial Production, it differs slightly because it is specific to only manufacturing industries, which by most estimates account for approximately 80% of total Industrial Production.

MPC Treasury Committee Hearings

The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the Bank of England (BOE), along with Governor Mervyn King, will speak on the standing of the British economic picture. The testimony is given before Parliament's Treasury committee.

Nationwide House Prices m/m

The Nationwide House Prices report in the UK acts as a preemptive inflation indicator within the housing market. The report includes data collected on any monthly changes of average sale prices for houses in the UK.

PPI Input m/m

PPI stands for Producer Price Index, a fundamental indicator that establishes the rate of inflation, or in other words, the rate of price changes as seen by manufacturers who must purchase goods and services. As PPI relates to the GBP it is broken into two separate economic indicators; PPI Input (measure of goods and services bought) and PPI Output (measure of goods and services sold). Of the two, PPI Input is generally more closely watched by traders. The Producer Price Index is touted as a timely and detailed inflation indicator. Typically, it is assumed that a rising trend in PPI will positively impact a nation's currency. When manufacturers are forced to pay higher prices for the goods and services they need, these higher prices are then soon seen by the consumer. As such, the PPI is considered an indication of consumer inflation. The potential impact of PPI in the market is well respected by traders, though it is generally not thought to have as large of an impact as does its closely related cousin; Consumer Price Index (CPI), which is usually released shortly after PPI.

Public Sector Net Borrowing

Public Sector Net Borrowing as its name suggests measures borrowing in the public sector, including government corporations. Increased trends seen in the amount of borrowing are said to imply economic expansion (investment flows), thus a positive or rising trend seen in this indicator should positively affect a nation's economy and their currency.

Retail Sales m/m

Retail Sales is a measurement of the total value of retail sales in a given period. Because a large portion of consumer spending is accounted for in this indicator and because this indicator is typically the first of the month to report numbers concerned with consumer spending, traders tend watch this indicator closely. Retail Sales gives traders a good look at the consumer spending situation, which of course, will account for approximately half of GDP (Gross Domestic Product). In other words, traders watch Retail Sales because of its lead into consumer spending, which, in turn, is important because of its lead into GDP.

RICS House Price Balance

RICS stands for the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors; their House Price Balance indicator is a measurement of price increases or decreases seen within the housing market in the UK. The information used to report this indicator is gathered through the means of survey; chartered surveyors report on price changes seen in their area. The percentage reading of the indicator would indicate that more surveyors saw an increase in price. 25%, for example, would indicate that 25% more surveyors saw an increase in price than did those who reported declining prices.

Rightmove House Price Index m/m

This indicator may be noteworthy simply because it is reported in the same month that figures are gathered. This is important when considering that most fundamental indicators released concerning the housing market are lagging indicators. Rightmove is a leading property website in the UK; their publication of same month housing data, specifically changes seen in the average asking price of residential properties, leads well into potential inflation that might be seen soon thereafter in the housing sector.

RPI y/y

RPI – Retail Price Index is much like CPI in that it measures inflation rates as seen by consumers. However, RPI differentiates itself in the sense that it looks only at goods and services bought for the purpose of household consumption.

Services PMI q/q

Measuring essentially the same information as normal PMI, the Services PMI simply focuses on the services sector. PMI stands for Purchasing Managers Index. Before the report is published purchasing managers are surveyed on the present situation of economic factors relevant to their position, factors such as new orders, inventories, production, employment, etc. Traders tend to keep an eye on this indicator because it tends to lead (leading indicator) into data that will later be released. This is because purchasing managers have an early view at the performance of their company. The indicator uses a reading of 50 to measure expansion, or the lack thereof. A reading above 50 would indicate economic expansion.

Trade Balance

Trade balance compares the amount of imported goods and services to the amount of exported goods and services of a given economy. Economically, it is in the best interest of an economy to have more goods and services exported than have been imported. Thus, a positive trade balance measures a period in which more goods and services were exported than were imported. An increased number of exports translate to an increase in the demand for said nation's currency, as other countries will be forced to exchange currency in order to purchase the exports. GDP (Gross Domestic Product) is also largely impacted by the trade balance, as an increase in the demand for exports will increase the work load of domestic factories, thus increasing employment levels.