Daily Brief

Daily Brief

See recent articles

Preparing the barricades

Extension obligation approved

On Monday the House of Lords gave its approval to the European Union (Withdrawal) (No 5) Bill. It will allow parliament to oblige the prime minister to extend Article 50 rather than leave the EU with no deal. It did not do much yesterday for sterling though.

Royal assent to the Cooper-Letwin bill was the only real Brexit development on Monday. Negotiations between the government and the opposition came no closer to an agreement. A Tory MP's call for a second referendum on Theresa May's leadership was rebuffed by the chairman of the backbenchers' committee.  

With no UK economic data to work with, investors did what they could with the Brexit thing and it was not much. The pound lost an average of 0.2% to the other ten most actively-traded major currencies. It gave up a quarter of a euro cent and is flat against the US dollar, Swiss franc and Japanese yen.

Hard cheese

The Trump trade war took another, not entirely unexpected, twist when the administration floated the idea of punitive import tariffs on French cheese. Also on the list are helicopters, wine, ski suits and unmounted prisms. The sense is that the president is tiring of China and wants to open a new front.

A trade battle with America is absolutely not what Europe needs at the moment. February's wider trade surplus for Germany was achieved only because imports fell even more quickly than exports. An improvement  in Sentix's survey of investor confidence shifted the dial from -2.2 to a less negative -0.3.

The other data on Monday did not have much bearing on exchange rates. There was a curious divergence between Swedish manufacturing orders and industrial production: The former were down by 2.8% on the year whole the latter increased by 2.7%. Sweden's krona is unchanged against the euro.  Another disparity was between Canadian building permits, down by a monthly 5.7%, and housing starts , which increased by 15.8%. The Loonie is four fifths of a cent higher on the day.

Waiting for something

Today's agenda is devoid of big-ticket items. Investors will be waiting to see what turns up on the Brexit and trade fronts.  

Overnight data from Australia showed a 2.0% monthly rebound in mortgage loans while investment lending for homes increased by 2.6%. Swiss unemployment was steady at 2.4%. 

Coming up are Italian retail sales and US small-business optimism. Tonight the British Retail Consortium reports on like-for-like retail sales and Westpac releases the results of its survey of Australian consumer confidence.

GBP: Little changed after Cooper-Letwin passes

GBP: Little changed after Cooper-Letwin passes

USD: Unchanged against GBP and JPY

USD: Unchanged against GBP and JPY

CAD: More help from oil price

CAD: More help from oil price

EUR: Not helped by US trade sabre-rattling

EUR: Not helped by US trade sabre-rattling

Weekly roundup

Weekly roundup

Go to Weekly round up
Personal payments

Personal payments

With a personal account you can enjoy competitive exchange rates and low fees on all your payments.

Find out more
FX business solutions

FX business solutions

We provide tailored services to help companies make global payments and manage their foreign exchange risk.

Find out more
Travel money

Travel money

Order your travel money for branch collection or secure it on our explorer multi-currency Mastercard®.

Find out more