Britain's Trade deficit widens

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Britain's goods trade deficit with the rest of the world unexpectedly swelled in January to reach its widest level since August 2008, fueling concerns about the strength of the country's broader economic recovery. Yesterday, the Office for National Statistics reported that Britain's trade deficit widened to 7.987 billion pounds from 7.010 billion in December, well above market expectations of 7 billion, as lower sales of chemicals and other commodities prompted a steep slump in exports. This disappointing figure will most likely fuel policy maker's concerns that the sharp depreciation in the value of the Pound has not led to the expected increase in exports. Bank of England policy maker Kate Barker said yesterday that Britain’s economy has shown a “disappointing” response to the weakness of the pound, which has fallen about a quarter in the past three years on a trade-weighted basis. Government Officials want gross domestic product to refocus on exporting as they try to entrench Britain’s recovery. The deterioration in the global trade balance was the direct result of a 6.9% fall in exports, the biggest decrease since July 2006; while there was speculation that the Britain's unseasonably harsh winter could have hampered the movement of goods, according to officials there was no firm evidence to support this theory. Imports fell just 1.6%.

Following the release of this disappointing news, the GBP slipped as much as 0.2% against the U.S Dollar and was trading down 0.9% on the day at $1.4957. After closing at $1.49991 yesterday, the Sterling plunged another 0.54% this morning to touch on $1.49176 in the forex online market.

Later this morning (930GMT), the Office for National Statistics will announce the U.K's manufacturing production for January. After increasing 0.9% between November and December of last year, the growth in manufacturing production is expected to slow, with the market expecting a rise of 0.3% between December and January.

Also later today (1900GMT), the U.S Treasury Department will release the Federal Budget Balance. While it is no secret that the U.S government is in serious debt, last month the size of the budget fell to a more acceptable level of -42.6B. This month, the market predicts that the deficit will to surge back up to 207.5B, weighing heavily on the value of the U.S dollar.

Tomorrow, both the US and Canada will simultaneously release their Trade Balance. This double-feature release always triggers action in USD/CAD. The American deficit is expected to remain high at around 40 billion, while Canada is expected to turn from a deficit of 0.2 to a surplus of 0.4 billion.

Later this afternoon (1800GMT), the European Central Bank president Jean-Claude Trichet will speak. As head of the ECB, which controls short term interest rates, Trichet has more influence over the Euro's value than any other person, and so his words will be carefully listened to. Today’s speech, held at the the inauguration ceremony of the Language of Money in Frankfurt, will be followed by a second, held at Institute of Economic Policy Research in Stanford, this Friday.

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