U.S. dollar rises amid global growth worries

U.S. dollar rises amid global growth worries

Brexit uncertainty helped drag the United Kingdom economy to a near standstill at the end of 2018, with subdued growth conditions persisting across the British services sector, according to a recent IHS Markit survey.

A final reading of the IHS Markit U.S. Services Purchasing Managers' Index declined to a seasonally adjusted 54.4 in December from 54.7 in November. Anything above 50 signals expectations of growth, while anything below that level means economic contraction is expected. Although ending the year with a weaker overall growth, the final quarterly average of 2018 was solid and more rapid than that recorded in 2017.

Irish manufacturing activity eased as the year drew to a close, with output, new orders and employment growth all slowing, according to the latest report on the sector.

Samuel Tombs, chief United Kingdom economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said: "The continued weakness of the business activity index in December adds to evidence that the economy effectively has ground to a halt, primarily due to mounting concerns about Brexit".

Factory activity weakened across much of Europe and Asia in December as the US-China trade war and a slowdown in demand hit production in many economies. The flash reading for December was 53.6.

Although the Markit/Cips service sector PMI rose slightly to 51.2 last month from 50.4 in November, the rate of increase in business activity was one of the slowest since the Brexit referendum in 2016.

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The U.S. manufacturing sector growth saw a slower momentum in December; however, it is still a solid rebound in the sector's health. "The service sector typically plays a major role in driving economic growth, but is now showing worrying signs of having lost steam".

Mrs May is also seeking to win fresh assurances from the European Union over the terms of her agreement, which is set to be voted on by MPs (BSE: MPSLTD.BO - news) within the next three weeks. The pace of inflation fell to an 11-month low.

November and December marked the weakest two months for morale among services firms since March 2009, around the low point of Britain's last recession.

Higher wages were cited as a key factor leading to rising input costs at service providers in December.

Williamson also said that the inflationary forces in the United States cooled in December 2018 mainly as lower oil prices helped to alleviate upward cost pressures from tariffs. As policymakers raised rates in December for the fourth time in 2018, they pencilled in just two moves for 2019, according to the median projection of Fed governors and district-bank presidents. This was the first reduction since February 2016.

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