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A big day for prices

Divergent antipodeans

Confident German investors, slowing inflation in New Zealand and a sustained pickup in the Chinese economy all played important roles over the last 24 hours. Britain's jobs numbers did not. The biggest movers were the antipodean dollars and sterling is mostly lower.

The Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung, more conveniently known as ZEW, reported a vigorous jump for economic sentiment in Germany and pan-Euroland. Both readings were about seven points higher, at 3.1 and 4.5 respectively. The euro perked up on the news. It is a quarter of a cent firmer against sterling and level with the US dollar.

Down under, a slowdown in NZ inflation, from 1.9% to 1.5%, came as a shock to the Kiwi. A figure of 1.7% had been expected. The result was a reversal of what happened three months ago when the quarterly inflation number beat forecast: the NZ dollar is half a cent lower on the day. The Aussie, meanwhile, is a cent and a half higher. Some of that headway was made following a suggestion that the RBA is not about to cut interest rates. The rest came at a rush on the back of stronger Chinese data for retail sales, industrial production and gross domestic product.

Record employment no help to sterling

Jobs numbers for February/March were decent enough but they were not sufficient to bring out the sterling buyers. The pound is an average of 0.3% lower. Only the Swiss franc and NZ dollar had a worse day.

The UK employment data were briefly helpful to the pound but did it no lasting good. At 76.1% the participation rate was the joint-highest on record and the 3.9% unemployment rate has not been lower since 1975. Basic average earnings were 3.4% higher on the year and up by 1.5% in real terms after adjusting for inflation. The government spun it as record employment: sceptics pointed out that more older women are working because their pensionable age has been raised.

Other than a slightly higher-than-expected 28.3k increase in jobseeker numbers the data were in line with expectations. However, the 3.4% average wage increase represents a slowdown from the previous month's 3.5%.

Inflation day

The lion's share of today's agenda is taken up by inflation figures from Italy, South Africa, Britain, Euroland and Canada. This evening the Federal Reserve publishes its Beige Book economic assessment. The Australian employment data tonight will be important to the Aussie.

In chronological order the inflation figures are expected to show: Italy unchanged at 1.0%; South Africa up from 4.1% to 4.6%; Britain accelerating from 1.9% to 2.0%; the euro zone steady at 1.4%; Canada rising from 1.5% to 1.9%. Three of those - Italy, the UK and Euroland - have no implications for interest rates. The South African and Canadian readings could have.

Employment data from Australia are always a bit of a gamble. Expectations for 12k new jobs in March and an uptick in the unemployment rate from 4.9% to 5.0% may or may not turn out to be valid. But any divergence would be likely to move the Aussie dollar.

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

NZR: Bad reaction to lower inflation

NZR: Bad reaction to lower inflation

AUD: Top of the shop as Chinese data beat forecast

AUD: Top of the shop as Chinese data beat forecast

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