January 31, 2018 / 8:36 AM / 4 months ago

Daily Briefing: May bats back leadership doubts

LONDON (Reuters) - Once more British PM Theresa May embarks on a trip abroad just as questions over her leadership mount at home.

British Prime Minister Theresa May is accompanied by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang as she arrives at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China January 31, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Lee

At a briefing for journalists heading to China with her, May fielded a dozen or so queries regarding her future with her usual "I'm no quitter" response before trying to focus minds on the three-day trip ahead and its aim of preparing the ground for an eventual free trade deal with China.

More immediately, inflation and its implications for interest rates are back in focus.

Yesterday's weaker than expected German inflation suggested that price pressures remain moderate even in the euro zone's largest (and booming) economy; contrast that to Bank of England Governor Mark Carney's assertion later in the day that the central bank was refocusing on bringing down inflation, up at around a six-year high of 3.1 percent after sterling's drop in value last year.

Economists mostly expect the next BoE rate hike in the second half of 2018 but Carney’s comments could embolden those betting on it moving as soon as May.

Some significant industrial action across Europe today: Greek public hospital doctors are planning a 24-hour strike and protest over labour issues as the Greek government continues with reforms; in Germany, union IG Metall has called for full-day walkouts from today through to Friday to push its wage claims in the large metal and engineering sector.

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Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky

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