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The anatomy of a housing market downturn

Measures of housing market activity and prices tend to follow a predictable sequence in downturns. In this Update we highlight the key US and UK variables that clients should follow to track the housing downturn and identify turning points. With most indicators already softening in both countries, it is just a matter of time before house prices fall. In view of the wider interest, we are also sending this US Housing Update to clients of our UK Housing Service.

24 June 2022

Too soon to conclude inflation won’t become more persistent

It’s too soon to conclude that the weak tone of this week’s news on activity means that inflation won’t become more persistent. Our proprietary measure of underlying/persistent CPI inflation rose to a new record high in May. And the flurry of higher pay settlements across the economy suggests that high inflation is feeding into faster wage growth. This may not necessarily be enough to prompt the Bank of England to start raising interest rates in 50 basis point steps. But we still think that rates will need to rise from 1.25% to 3.00% to tame inflation.

24 June 2022

Student accommodation rent growth to stay solid

Student enrolment remained robust during the last couple of years and is likely to continue growing strongly over the next decade. But supply of purpose-built beds has grown less rapidly and the pipeline points to a continued lag against demand. This demand-supply imbalance will likely support solid rent growth over the coming years.

24 June 2022
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Retail Sales (May)

The fall in retail sales in May suggests that the decline in households’ real incomes from surging inflation is starting to hit consumer spending a bit harder. Even so, consumer spending appears to be softening rather than sinking, so we doubt that this will deter the Bank of England from hiking interest rates further.

Gilts to struggle sooner, equities to struggle for longer

We haven’t changed our forecast that the Bank of England will raise interest rates from 1.25% now to a peak of 3.00% by the middle of next year. But we do now think that a number of other central banks will raise interest rates faster and to higher levels to try and get on top of inflation. As a result of these global factors, we now think that 10-year gilt yields will rise from 2.35% currently to a peak of 3.00% by the end of this year rather than to 3.00% by the middle of next year. We also think the FTSE 100 will fall from 7,050 now to a trough of around 6,600 by the end of next year (rather than to a low of 6,800 by the middle of next year). In other words, rises in global interest rates and the toll they will take on activity will result in the prices of gilts falling faster and UK equity prices falling further and for longer.

23 June 2022

S&P Global/CIPS Flash PMIs (Jun.)

The fact that the composite PMI didn’t fall in June means the economy could be holding up a little better than we and the Bank of England had feared. Beneath the headline numbers, the survey also suggests strong inflationary pressures have not gone away. That supports our view that interest rates will rise from 1.25% now to 3.00% next year, further than the 2.00% peak expected by the consensus of analysts.

Euro-zone Flash PMIs (June)

June’s euro-zone PMI surveys showed a further slowdown in the services sector, while activity in the manufacturing sector now seems to be falling outright. With the price indices remaining extremely strong, the euro-zone appears to have entered a period of stagflation.

Public Finances (May)

The larger-than-expected rise in public borrowing in May is an early blow for the government on a day when it is expected to lose two by-elections. What’s more, the combination of a further weakening in economic activity and more interest rates rises will probably mean that borrowing overshoots the OBR’s 2022/23 forecast of £99bn by at least £10bn. That will limit the ability of the Chancellor to cut taxes and/or provide more grants to households when the cost of living crisis worsens later this year.

23 June 2022
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