Sterling Flat as Britons Vote in Key Elections, BoE Decides on Rates
The British pound held steady at $1.39 on Thursday, as investors remain cautious ahead of UK local elections and the Bank of England’s monetary policy statement later in the day. Contests are taking place for the governments of Scotland and Wales, the Mayor of London and English local councils, in a major test for Prime Minister Boris Johnson and opposition Labour Party Leader Keir Starmer. In Scotland, an outright majority for the Scottish National party would increase calls for another independence referendum. Elsewhere, UK policymakers are seen leaving monetary policy unchanged, but there is a chance they could signal trimming support for the recovering economy.
Norway Industrial Output Rises the Least in 4 Months
Norway’s industrial production increased 0.6 percent year-on-year in March of 2021, the least since last November, slowing from a 1.5 gain in the previous month, mainly due to a fall in both production of electricity, gas & steam (-2.6% vs 14.5% in February) and extraction & related services (-2.2% vs -1.5%), while those of manufacturing grew faster (4.7% vs 0.8%). Manufacturing output growth accelerated, due to a faster increase in output of refined petroleum, chemicals, pharmaceuticals (2.2% vs 1.7%), basic metals (6.2% vs 4.2%). In addition, production of machinery and equipment fell much less (-0.7% vs -5.4%). Meanwhile, output of tobacco expanded softer (5.3% vs 9.4%). By contrast, production of ships, boats and oil platforms dropped (-7.5% vs 9.4%).
Eurozone Construction Activity Grows Fractionally for 2nd Month
The IHS Markit Eurozone Construction PMI was unchanged at 50.1 in April 2021, signalling a fractional expansion in the bloc’s construction activity for the second successive month. A further rise in home building activity and a softer reduction in commercial construction were offset by a steeper decline in civil engineering works.
France Construction Sector Shrinks Marginally for 2nd Month
The IHS Markit France Construction PMI edged up to 49.8 in April of 2021 from 49.7 in the previous month. The latest reading signalled another fractional decline, the softest since expansion was last recorded in June 2020. The result came amid a second successive monthly increase in new projects and a further rise in purchasing activity. At the sub-sector level, the ongoing downturn in overall activity was centred on commercial construction and civil engineering, while homebuidling activity was stable for the second month running.On the price front, cost burdens continued to soar, with the rate of input price inflation accelerating to the quickest since July 2008.