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Pound Rises on Record Economic Improvement

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Sterling recovered on Friday after Thursday’s sharp fall. The correction began after the publication of the report on the strong increase in retail sales. The data showed that the UK economy may already be recovering from its worst annual recession in 300 years.

The fall of the pound on Thursday neutralized the weekly growth against the dollar. On Friday, the pound is up 0.3% to $ 1.3879 by 08:21 GMT.

UK retail sales rose sharply last month as consumers braced for the partial lifting of coronavirus quarantine restrictions, according to official figures, which also saw record peacetime government borrowing.

Sales in March jumped 5.4% compared to February, according to the Office for National Statistics, with sales in clothing stores rising particularly strongly. Economists polled by Reuters had expected 1.5% growth from the previous month.

“UK retail sales data for March has just been released, which is much better than expected, and is good for the UK and the pound sterling in the second quarter,” strategists at ING said in a research article.

UK consumer sentiment soared to its highest level since the start of the COVID pandemic this month as the economy recovered partially, a closely monitored poll on Friday showed, but growth was less than economists expected.

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GfK’s consumer confidence index rose to -15 in April from -16 in March, the highest since a poll conducted in early March last year before the country was tightly quarantined.

“We think this data represents further evidence of a return to normalcy as quarantine restrictions ease in the UK, a process that we expect to accelerate in April as secondary outlets were allowed to open (although we note that today’s GfK’s consumer confidence data implies less-than-expected growth in sentiment to -15 in April from -16 in March), ”said Paul Jackson, head of global asset allocation research at Invesco, commenting on the retail sales data.

The preliminary UK Composite Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) rose to 60.0 in April from 56.4 in March, the highest since November 2013. A Reuters poll suggested a smaller increase to 58.2.

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The study added signs that the world’s fifth largest economy, which contracted nearly 10% in 2020, is gearing up for a rapid recovery, fueled by rapid COVID-19 vaccinations.

Both service and manufacturing companies have increased their workforce this month in training, PMI research found.

“We now seem to see the first evidence of the pent-up demand that has been forming over the many months of quarantine as the restrictions began to be lifted,” said Rhys Herbert, senior economist at Lloyds Bank.

The PMI for the UK services sector rose to 60.1 in April from 56.3 in March, the highest since August 2014, driven by consumer-oriented businesses.

The manufacturing PMI, which accounts for about 10% of the UK economy, rose to its highest level since 1994 at 60.7, up from 58.9 in March.

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As in previous months, the survey asked how companies interpret supply chain delays caused by the pandemic and, to a lesser extent, Brexit.

Both manufacturers and service companies have reported rapid increases in pressure on prices – something the Bank of England will be monitoring.

“These prices will inevitably lead to higher inflation as we approach the summer, although there is great uncertainty about how long the inflationary impact will last,” said Chris Williamson, chief economist at IHS Markit.

On Thursday, the Confederation of British Industries said British manufacturers’ hopes for an economic recovery peaked in 48 years as the country began to recover from the recession triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Against the euro, the pound sterling rose 0.1% to 86.77 pence. On Thursday, the pound sterling fell to its lowest level in almost a week against the single currency.

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