Daily Brief

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Central banks abound

A good loser

Investors are perturbed that the Prime Minister's plan to get Brexit done involves rather more uncertainty than they anticipated a week ago. They showed their lack of enthusiasm by taking the pound another 0.4% lower on Wednesday. After four consecutive days of decline, sterling is an average of 1% below its pre-election level.

Fortunately, sterling is a good loser. It should be: it has had plenty of practice. There was nothing new and scary to affect it yesterday, just a case of the same old, same old. With the theoretical risk of a no-deal Brexit at the end of 2020 - and surely it is only theoretical -  investors feel obliged to deliver the traditional response.

The UK inflation data were uncontroversial. Consumer prices (CPI) were up by 1.5% in the year to November and retail prices (RPI) by 2.2%. Manufacturers' costs (PPI input) were 2.7% lower on the year while factory gate prices (PPI output) rose 1.1%. There was nothing there to make any waves at today's Monetary Policy Committee meeting.

A bad loser

As expected, the Democrat House of Representatives voted yesterday to impeach the president while it is expected he will be acquitted by the Republican Senate in the new year. Trump was unhappy with the verdict and got his retaliation in early. There was no reaction from the US dollar, which is a quarter of a cent firmer.

The inflation data from Euroland and Canada were no more startling than those from Britain. In the euro zone, headline inflation was 1% and in Canada 2.2%. Another positive survey of German business confidence, this one from IFO, found sentiment improving "noticeably".

Overnight the NZ dollar spiked briefly higher on news that NZ gross domestic product expanded by 0.7% in Q3, a little more than expected. The Kiwi went on to add a net one and an eighth cents. In Australia, the employment figures were much better than expected (the forecasters seldom get it right) with 40k new jobs and unemployment down to 5.2%. The Aussie moved higher, eventually pocketing one and a fifth cents.

Lower in places

A slack handful of central bank monetary policy announcements today will probably include a rate hike and a rate cut, Sweden's Riksbank and Banco de México being the likely candidates. The Bank of Japan has already kept rates unchanged (at -0.1%). Norges Bank (currently 0%) and the Bank of England (0.75%) are expected to do likewise.

Riksbank is expected to end its flirtation with negative rates, bringing its benchmark rate up to 0%. At the last MPC meeting, two of the nine members of the committee voted for a quarter-percentage-point rate cut. They will probably do so again today. There are also November's UK retail sales data for sterling to contend with, as well as the CBI's take on the same subject - the Distributive Trades Survey. UK data tomorrow cover consumer confidence, public sector borrowing and third quarter GDP.

There are no other super-important ecostats on today's list. Tomorrow, the United States updates third quarter GDP and the University of Michigan finalises its consumer confidence index. Canadian data will cover retail sales and new house prices.

GBP: A fourth day on the ropes

GBP: A fourth day on the ropes

USD: House impeaches Trump

USD: House impeaches Trump

EUR: Inflation on target

EUR: Inflation on target

SEK: Rate increase expected

SEK: Rate increase expected

NZD: Third quarter growth due

NZD: Third quarter growth due

AUD: Employment figures tonight

AUD: Employment figures tonight

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