Sterling little changed after mixed labour market data

·2 min read

By Samuel Indyk

LONDON, Aug 16 (Reuters) - The British pound was little changed on Tuesday, having briefly fallen to its lowest level in over a week, after mixed data showed a jobs market that is still hot, although some early signs it may be starting to cool.

Britain's unemployment rate held close to a half-century low, but the number of people employed grew less than expected in a Reuters poll and the number of job vacancies fell for the first time since mid-2020, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

Wages, not including bonuses, rose by 4.7%, above expectations of 4.5%. But the real value of pay, not including bonuses, dropped faster than at any time since records began in 2001, the ONS said, amid surging inflation.

By 0804 GMT, the pound was flat at $1.2051, after earlier dropping to its lowest level since Aug. 5 at $1.2008.

Against the euro, it was little changed at 84.275 pence.

The Bank of England (BoE) is closely watching labour market data for signs inflationary pressures are cooling, but analysts said the mixed data would be unlikely to move the needle when it comes to the policy decision next month.

"The labour market data was a bit of a mixed bag," said Michael Brown, head of market intelligence at Caxton.

"I don't think this is going to impact the Bank of England's thinking in terms of interest rates," Brown added, saying he expected another 50 basis point rate rise in September.

Money markets are currently pricing in around an 83% chance of a second consecutive 50 basis point hike from the BoE next month, little changed from before the data.

Looking ahead, focus is likely to turn to Wednesday's inflation figures for July for clues on the BoE's next move.

The headline consumer price index is forecast to have increased to 9.8% in July, although the BoE expects a peak later in the year above 13% amid soaring energy prices.

(Reporting by Samuel Indyk Editing by Mark Potter)