Christmas Retail Figures Released

Figures from some of the UK largest retailers for the Christmas period have been released and so far it appears that it is a relatively mixed bag. Both Sainsbury’s and John Lewis have reported healthy sales figures for the festive period but Mothercare and Debenhams have both announce they expect weak profit figures for the Christmas period. While there are still many companies left to announce their sales figures it will be interesting to see how the other major players on the UK high street performed in what is usually one of the busiest and therefore most important times of the year for retailers. One key company to keep an eye out for is Marks and Spencers. This retailing giant has for decades been seen as the indicator of how the UK high street has been performing, and so often should we see positive figures for M&S we can expect good overal sales figures in the UK whilst the reverse is also possible.

On top of the mixed Christmas sales figures we have also heard this morning that the Halifax have confirmed UK house prices have increased by 7.5% over the last year with the average price of a property in the UK now at £173,467. The UK’s largest lender has also stated that they expect house prices to continue rising throughout 2014 meaning it is likely that we will see the average house prices exceed the levels we saw before the financial crisis in 2007. As mentioned in yesterdays currency blog there is still a concern that house prices are rising too fast and as a result could cause a house price bubble, and while a 7.5% increase is not excessively fast growth it is another sign that the housing market is moving in the right direction but should this growth continue the concerns of a housing bubble may be realised. However, while UK house prices do keep rising it is expected we will see an increase in house sales which should increase the flow of money through the economy providing yet another boost to the UK and Sterling exchange rates. I personally believe that UK house prices will be crucial to sustainable economic growth this year and so I will be watching all UK housing data releases closely.

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