World Economy

Weak Pound Boosts UK Exports

Manufacturers are regaining a sense of returning  to business as usual.Manufacturers are regaining a sense of returning  to business as usual.

UK factory activity reached a 10-month high in August as a weaker pound boosted exports, underscoring early evidence of British economic resilience after the Brexit vote.

IHS Markit said its Purchasing Managers Index, which dropped below the key 50 level in July, jumped by a record to 53.3. That was far better than economists had forecast; the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey was for a reading of 49. New orders rose, with sterling’s recent drop “by far the main factor” for the improvement in exports, Markit said.

“Companies reported that work that had been postponed during July had now been restarted, as manufacturers and their clients started to regain a sense of returning to business as usual,” said Rob Dobson, senior economist at Markit.

The figures are the latest to signal economic fortitude in the wake of the June 23 vote to leave the European Union, a decision that prompted the Bank of England to cut interest rates for the first time since 2009. The labor market, consumer confidence, retail sales and house prices have all shown strength over the summer months, confounding predictions of a slowdown by some economists.

That’s prompted investors to lower the odds on another rate cut by the BoE’s December meeting. They now see a 27% chance that the Monetary Policy Committee will lower the benchmark from 0.25%, down from almost 40% following the August decision.

  Sharp Rebound

“If the sharp rebound in the manufacturing PMI is mirrored in the services PMI, which covers more than half of the UK economy, chances are that the MPC would not cut bank rate in November,” Citigroup Inc. economists including Christian Schulz and Guillaume Menuet wrote in a note to clients.

Markit is due to report on construction activity Friday and publish its index of services next week.

The pound advanced after the factory report was published to reach $1.32 in London, up 0.8% on the day. It has fallen more than 10% against the dollar since the Brexit vote.

The referendum result initially sent measures of confidence and activity plunging, prompting the injection of new stimulus by the BoE. While the threat of a recession has receded, uncertainty over how the UK will actually exit the EU remains an issue.

“We knew it was going to be a bounce, but I wasn’t expecting it to be as strong as this bounce,” Jonathan Bell, chief investment officer at Stanhope Capital Inc., said in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “The Pulse” with Mark Barton. “There are indications of confidence there and the concerns about the UK going into recession in the fourth quarter are maybe being allayed a bit.”

The data also adds weight to the case for the BoE to refrain from adding to its newly extended stimulus measures. Governor Mark Carney announced in August that all elements could be taken further, including another rate cut. Policy makers are next set to meet on Sept. 15.