Friday, 22nd July: Economic activity data releases for the UK were released this morning, demonstrating that the British economy is shrinking at its fastest rate since the financial crisis. Initial readings of the purchasing managers’ indices (PMIs) revealed economic activity has dropped from 52.4 to 47.7, its lowest level since April 2009. Any reading below 50 signal a contraction in the economy so the services sector reading of 47.4 (down from 52.3) does not make for easy reading. This in itself is the biggest drop since records began in 1996. Forecasters had been expecting a drop, but not to this degree. Manufacturing PMI fell from 52.1 to 49.1. However, one of the bright sparks in the data showed manufacturing exports grew at the fastest rate in almost 2 years as a result of the fall in sterling post-Brexit. Sterling further fell on the back of the data releases and remained lower against both the euro and US dollar throughout Friday. GBP/EUR is currently €1.19 (-0.60%) whilst GBP/USD is $1.31 (-1.13%).
In the UK Vodafone released its first quarter update, announcing they had produced better than expected sales growth in the period. The group is the world’s second-largest mobile operator, and revealed that three of its four biggest markets were “doing well”. It was Britain who lagged but Vodafone has been trying to fix problems encountered with a new billing system. The European side of the business is making progress, led by Germany, Spain and Italy. The improvement in sales strength comes despite a drag from European Union roaming charge cuts and the performance marks an 8th consecutive quarter rise in “organic service revenue”. Vodafone has warned it could move its global headquarters out of London, but today said it is too soon to have clarity on the situation. The group report in Euros (rather than sterling) as about half of its sales come from its combined euro zone businesses and have been one of the “winners” in the market following Brexit result. The shares are >8% higher since June 23rd and led the blue-chip index throughout the day, ending +4.64%.
Good news for Pokemon Go fans in Japan as the game has finally been launched in its home nation. Despite no official launch date ever being announced, Pokemon fans in Japan had been following the rumour-mill and believed the launch was imminent, and finally today they got what they asked for. Japan now joins 35 other countries who play the virtual reality game. Below is a chart of Nintendo’s share price performance since Pokemon Go launched, up to yesterday’s close.