Daily Brief

Daily Brief

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Sterling setback

Downbeat bank

From comments they made at the end of last week, members of the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee do not see any immediate economic upside to getting Brexit done. Three of them, including the governor, think a rate cut might be necessary. That thought has been unhelpful to sterling.

Mark Carney was first out of the blocks, with a set-piece speech on Thursday. He said there could be a case for lower rates if the recent economic weakness carries over into the new year. The following day Silvana Tenreyo told a similar story at a Resolution Foundation event: "If uncertainty over the future (EU) trading arrangement [were] to weigh on demand, then my inclination is towards voting for a cut in Bank Rate in the near term." On Sunday, Gertjan Vlieghe went down almost exactly the same track in an article for the FT: "I really need to see an imminent and significant improvement in the UK data to justify waiting a little bit longer."

The cumulative effect of this collective circumspection was to make investors more cautious about the pound. It gapped lower when the Far East opened this morning, as a result of Mr Vlieghe's piece. Since Thursday, sterling has fallen an average of 0.6%, with losses of nearly a cent each to the euro, the franc and the US dollar.

Jobs underwhelm

US nonfarm payrolls increased by 145k in December - less than expected - and earlier months were downwardly revised. The equivalent Canadian data were stronger than expected. In neither case was there any lasting impact on the currency, and CAD/USD is almost unchanged on the day.

December's US employment report continued to show steady - if slowing - growth. The last month to see a loss of jobs was September 2010. The main concern is that wage growth is slowing too, and that could depress consumer spending. 

The Canadian data went down well enough, especially in view of the previous two months' job losses. Supporters of the Loonie fancy that the numbers might persuade the Bank of Canada to put aside thoughts of a rate cut, though the slowdown in wage growth from 4.4% to 3.8% could scupper than argument.

Big week ahead

The coming days are packed with economic statistics, including some important numbers for sterling. Inflation figures will be forthcoming from the States, Britain and Euroland. There should also be a formal signing of the Sino-US "phase one" trade agreement.

Today's agenda opened with German wholesale prices, which fell 1.3% in calendar 2019. The only other euro zone figures are for Italian retail sales. After lunch the Bank of Canada releases its Business Outlook Survey. Tonight's data from New Zealand cover business confidence and building permits.

A job lot of UK ecostats this morning touches on trade, manufacturing and industrial production, business investment and gross domestic product. Manufacturing and industrial production will probably have fallen further in November. GDP monthly statistics showed the UK economy shrank by 0.3% in November. The estimate by the Office for National Statistics was worse than economists had predicted. 

GBP: Hurt by BoE gloomsters

GBP: Hurt by BoE gloomsters

USD: Payrolls growth slows

USD: Payrolls growth slows

CAD: Loonie unrewarded for good jobs numbers

CAD: Loonie unrewarded for good jobs numbers

EUR:German wholesale prices fell 1.3% in calendar 2019

EUR:German wholesale prices fell 1.3% in calendar 2019

NZD: Business confidence on building permits on the agenda later

NZD: Business confidence on building permits on the agenda later

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