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Daily Brief

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An end to austerity

Brexit-related euphoria

In a stunning turnaround the pound went from Tuesday's dud to Wednesday's champion. Two days ago it was scuppered by adverse Brexit-related news: yesterday - and mainly overnight - it was taken an average of  1.0% higher by  positive tidings.  

Three stories in particular contributed to sterling's success. A survey by HSBC came up with results at odds with the Lloyds Bank study a day earlier: a majority of UK businesses are ready for Brexit and optimistic about trade prospects.  Brexit minister Dominic Raab has (maybe) suggested that a deal with the EU will be done within three weeks. And The Times reports  that an arrangement has been made to allow UK financial companies to continue doing business with the EU after Britain's departure.

Point one: There is nothing very concrete about any of those stories.  Point two: There was not much concrete about yesterday's bad news either.  Investors were as happy to mark up the pound on Wednesday as they had been to smack it on Tuesday.  On the day sterling is up by one and a half Swiss cents, one and a third US cents, one and a quarter euro cents and one Japanese yen.

Inflation but no cigar

Consumer prices in the euro zone  increased by a provisional 2.2% in the year to October. The higher inflation rate was in line with analysts' forecasts.  Having softened ahead of the announcement the euro recovered most of the lost ground but there was no carry-through.

Even though the core inflation measure - excluding food and energy - ticked up to 1.1% investors were not persuaded that the numbers were fierce enough to affect European Central Bank policy. The euro was unchanged on the day against the US dollar and almost so against the yen and the Canadian dollar.  The four of them competed for last place among the major currencies.

Sterling's closest competitors were the Aussie and the Kiwi, both of which strengthened by 0.5% against the US dollar. The Australian dollar received direct help from a trade surplus which was much wider than expected.  According to local reports the NZ's gains were mostly a side-effect of improved sentiment resulting from the Brexit news flow.

Old Lady to the fore

Top billing today goes to the Bank of England. At midday as it announces no change to  interest rates, the bank will also publish the minutes of the policy meeting as well as the quarterly Inflation Report. Half an hour later the governor will be making a speech and taking questions.

With Brexit uncertainty - especially after the last two days' stories - still clouding the waters it is almost inconceivable that the bank could adjust interest rates today. As he introduces the Inflation Report, however, the governor will have the opportunity to shed light on where he sees rates going next. He will probably do his best to avoid doing that though.

As for the rest of the agenda, it is mostly made up of manufacturing sector purchasing managers' index readings from Europe and North America. Britain's is forecast to be roughly a point lower on the month at 53.0.

GBP scores the biggest gains on positive Brexit stories

GBP scores the biggest gains on positive Brexit stories

EUR not lifted by higher Euroland inflation

EUR not lifted by higher Euroland inflation

AUD rises on wider trade surplus

AUD rises on wider trade surplus

NZD surfs wave of improved sentiment

NZD surfs wave of improved sentiment

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