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A tale of two central banks

Scattered doves

For the most part, nothing happened in the FX market on Monday. With two exceptions, ranges were narrow and currency moves were small or non-existent. Sterling shared first place with three other major currencies, with another one very close behind.

The two exceptions were the Canadian and Australian dollar. Both weakened as a result of central bank input. In the case of the Loonie it was the Bank of Canada's Business Outlook Survey that made the difference. Sentiment has softened from a strongly positive reading in the last survey, turning negative for the first time since 2016. The BoC said: "The main headwinds are a more uncertain outlook in the Western Canadian energy sector, continued weakness in housing-related activity in some regions, and tangible impacts from global trade tensions." The Canadian dollar is 0.4% lower on the day, in last place behind the majors.

Australia's dollar is just ahead of the Loonie, down by 0.3% or half a cent. The culprit there was the minutes of the Reserve Bank of Australia's policy meeting which took place a fortnight ago. They cited several obstacles to growth, including weaker-than-expected GDP growth, drought and other "weather-related disruption", slower growth in household income and consumption and falling house prices. The punch line was the board's consideration of continued low inflation and a pickup in unemployment, "noting that a decrease in the cash rate would likely be appropriate in these circumstances".  

Another dove

In an interview with CNBC Chicago Federal Reserve president Charles Evans suggested that US interest rates will remain low for another year or more. His observation carried less weight that it might have done had he not earned a reputation as a perma-dove. The dollar was not affected.

Mr Evans said in the interview that "I can see the funds rate being flat and unchanged into the fall [autumn] of 2020". In the Q&A he went further, saying there would be an argument for a rate cut if "core" inflation were to fall to 1.5%. The US dollar is unchanged against sterling.

The euro and Japanese yen are also unchanged against the pound, with the Swiss franc and the Northern Scandinavian crowns almost so. There were no economic data of any consequence on Monday. From anywhere.

Jobs

The ecostat pace picks up today. The important ones will be the  UK employment data, European investor sentiment, Canadian manufacturing output, US industrial production and, tonight, NZ inflation. Chinese retail sales and first quarter GDP come later.

With Brexit on the back burner for the moment, investors might pay more than the usual attention to the UK jobs numbers. Average basic earnings growth should remain positive at 3.4% a year with unemployment steady at 3.8%. New Zealand inflation is expected to have slowed to 1.7% in Q1.  China's economy is forecast to have expanded by 1.4% in Q1, putting annual growth at 6.3%.

In the supporting roles, German and Euroland investor confidence should be higher on the month. Canadian manufacturing shipments are supposed to be flat, Chinese retail sales 8.4% higher on the year and Japanese industrial production down by 1.0%.  

GBP: Shares the lead on a mostly quiet day

GBP: Shares the lead on a mostly quiet day

EUR: Level with the pound and USD

EUR: Level with the pound and USD

CAD: At the back as business confidence goes negative

CAD: At the back as business confidence goes negative

AUD: In penultimate slot after RBA considers rate cut

AUD: In penultimate slot after RBA considers rate cut

NZD: Awaits inflation data tonight

NZD: Awaits inflation data tonight

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