Daily Brief

Daily Brief

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Sterling flat

Pessimism fatigue

On the time-honoured basis that not everyone can be pessimistic forever, the risk-off brigade took a breather on Tuesday, abandoning the safe-haven yen in favour of the Swedish krona. The logic for buying the krona was not exactly watertight but it only just edged the Australian dollar into second place.

In fairness, little of the logic was watertight. Sentiment counted for much more than the fundamental economic data, which were in short supply. At the forefront of most investors' considerations was the Wuhan coronavirus and its effects on health and the economy. With the virus itself, the vast majority of cases are in China and investors decided yesterday that they were less concerned about a global pandemic, given the strenuous quarantine efforts that have been made across the board.

The economic impact remains difficult to anticipate but appears again to mainly concern China. Share prices headed higher, gold lost ground and oil prices moved randomly. The Japanese yen fell 0.6% against sterling, which was flat against the North American dollars and unchanged on average. The euro and Swiss franc both lost a quarter of a cent to the pound.

 

Everyone's a winner

Eyes were on Iowa this week, and the anarchic first round of the process to select the Democratic nominee for President. Controversially, a computing glitch left all the candidates claiming victory. With little else to occupy them, investors took a vague interest, as they did in the President's speech to Congress.

The President's annual State of the Union address to Congress was as colourful as might have been expected. It was not heavy on economic plans but he did press home the message that America is doing well. Trump's oratory did the dollar no harm; it is unchanged on the day and the week.

Tuesday's economic data failed to get pulses racing. Britain's construction sector purchasing managers' index improved by four points to 48.4, as output fell at the slowest pace since May last year. Italian inflation inched ahead to a provisional 0.6%. US factory orders rebounded by 1.8% in December after a 1.2% decline the previous month.

 

Services PMIs

The final round of PMIs - services and composite - should almost all be in the growth zone above 50. The strongest readings are likely to be from the United States and the consensus is that UK services will come in at 52.9.

Data appeared overnight from New Zealand, Australia, Japan and China. NZ unemployment edged down to 4.0%, better than forecast but not by enough to do the Kiwi any permanent good. Australia's services PMI "showed a recovery" in activity, as did the reading from Japan. Chinese growth softened for the second month running.

As well as the PMIs, the numbers from Europe also cover Swedish industrial production and orders, and Euroland retail sales. Canada reports this afternoon on the balance of trade and ADP prints its employment change figure, supposedly a pointer to Friday's employment report. Australia's balance of trade and retail sales statistics come out tonight.

SEK: Leads by accident

SEK: Leads by accident

JPY: Safe-haven unwanted

JPY: Safe-haven unwanted

USD: Steady after Trump speech

USD: Steady after Trump speech

GBP: Unchanged on average

GBP: Unchanged on average

NZD: Unemployment edges lower

NZD: Unemployment edges lower

AUD: Services sector improves

AUD: Services sector improves

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