Duncan Brock, the Group Director at the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply, however, remained downbeat about the UK economy, saying: “Once again this month, the lifeblood of the sector continued to leak away with Brexit indecision striking another blow to new orders and employment in February.”
The pound climbed higher today on news that the Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay and Attorney General Geoffrey Cox will once again be meeting in Brussels to secure from the EU legally-binding guarantees on the Northern Irish backstop.
This has further buoyed hopes that Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal may win backing from MPs on the March 12 vote, which has provided some uplift for the pound.
The euro, meanwhile, began to fall against the pound despite the release of the Spanish Markit Services PMI figures for February growing at 54.5. These were also followed by the publication of the Eurozone’s flash PMI figures for February which increased above expectation to 51.9 – a three-month high.
Chris Williamson, a Chief Business Economist at IHS Markit, commented: “The final PMI for February indicated a slightly improved performance compared to the flash estimate, lifted higher than January in part due to the further easing of one-off dampening factors such as the yellow vest protests in France and new auto sector emissions rules.”
Italian GDP figures, however, simply confirmed the nation’s status of being in a technical recession, leaving many euro traders feeling jittery.
The release of the UK’s BRC like-for-like retail sales figures for February, meanwhile, showed a fall of -0.1 percent – below the consensus of 0.1 percent rise.
Helen Dickinson, the Chief Executive of the BRC, commented: “With consumers increasingly aware of the risk of a no-deal Brexit, it is likely that uncertainty has driven this cautious approach to retail spending.”
However, these left the pound relatively unmoved with most traders’ sights set on Brexit today.
Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron has proposed to reform the EU – with Brexit as a lesson – and this has caused some pound investors to remain jittery, with fears that it could compromise relations between the UK and the EU.
Mr Macron said: “The Brexit impasse is a lesson for us all… Who spoke to them about losing access to the European market? Who mentioned the risks to peace in Ireland of restoring the former border? Nationalist retrenchment offers nothing. It is rejection without an alternative. And this trap threatens the whole of Europe.”
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