It was a busy start to the European session. The French economy was in the spotlight, with French inflation, Q4 GDP, and consumer spending figures in focus. In Q4, the French economy expanded by 0.1% according to finalized numbers, unchanged from the first estimate and growth in Q3.
Significantly, inflationary pressures picked up in February, with the French annual inflation rate rising from 6.0% to 6.2% versus a forecasted 6.1%. However, consumer spending increased by 1.5% in January, reversing a 1.6% slide from December. The latest French inflation and consumer spending support a 50-basis point rate hike in March. However, the ECB will unlikely consider the latest numbers in April.
In the latest ECB Economic Bulletin, the ECB noted that rising wage growth and declining energy price inflation should ease the loss of purchasing power and support consumption. Consumer confidence would need to improve to support the ECB’s outlook on consumption.
After the latest US inflation numbers and shift in sentiment toward Fed monetary policy, investors need to monitor ECB member speeches. However, with no ECB Executive Board members on the calendar to speak today, investors should track ECB Executive Board member commentary with the media.
Ahead of today’s stats, the EUR/USD rose to an early high of $1.06149 before falling to a low of $1.05818. However, in response to the numbers from France, the EUR/USD rose to a post-stat high of $1.05969 before easing back. When writing, the EUR/USD was down 0.16% to $1.05928.