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Alarms and excursions

Aussie undermined

Unexpectedly, it was the Aussie that found itself at the epicentre of an overnight currency-quake. A decent set of Australian employment data were constructive for the currency but that was not even the half of it.

As is often the case, the jobs data were a less than perfect match to the numbers put up by forecasters. A total of 39k new jobs was more than twice the expected 15k increase and there was a big swing from part-time to full-time employment. Unemployment was unchanged at 5.0%. The Aussie strengthened by a cent. Less than an hour later it gave back all that and more when Westpac, a bank, predicted interest rate cuts by the Reserve Bank of Australia this year.

And there was more; a report that customs officials at Dalian, a major Chinese port, had banned imports of Australian coal.  Imports had already been delayed, apparently because Beijing is upset with Canberra's treatment of Huawei and other technology issues.  The net result is a one-cent decline for the Australian dollar and possession of the dreaded wooden spoon.

More independents

News that three MPs had left the ruling Conservative party to join ex-Labour-party members in the Independent Group confused investors: did it mean less chance of a no-deal Brexit or a greater chance of a snap general election?  By the upward motion of sterling they must have decided the defections were positive.

The pound fared less well later in the day, as a result of uncertainty about the prime minister's success in persuading the EU to modify its backstop demands  so as to make the deal more parliament-friendly. The Evening Standard summed up the confusion with its headline "Brexit news latest: May and Juncker hail 'constructive' talks despite no breakthrough in Brussels". Two ministers will visit Brussels today for further talks. On average, sterling is unchanged on the day.

Meanwhile in Washington, the US dollar moved higher after the Fed published the minutes of last month's Federal Open Market Committee meeting. Investors found their tone to be less dovish than expected and the dollar is a net quarter-cent higher on the day.

PMIs and not-the-minutes

Wednesday's ecostats were mostly of third-division status and there were not many of them. Today's agenda promises to be more interesting. It includes the "accounts" (don't call them the minutes) of the European Central Bank policy meeting and speeches by senior people from the central banks of Britain, the US, Canada and Australia.

The inflation numbers from Germany (1.4% or 1.7%) and France (1.4%) are already out. Italy follows later this morning. Also from Euroland there will be the provisional purchasing managers' index readings and the ECB accounts. Britain reports on public sector borrowing.

North American data cover US PMIs, durable goods orders, existing home sales and the Philadelphia Fed's manufacturing index and Canada contributes wholesale sales and ADP's employment change. The Japanese inflation number come out tonight. Along the way, the media might also have something to say about Brexit. 

GBP unchanged after more defections and "constructive" talks

GBP unchanged after more defections and "constructive" talks

AUD thrown about by jobs, rates and coal

AUD thrown about by jobs, rates and coal

EUR prepares for ECB policy meeting accounts

EUR prepares for ECB policy meeting accounts

USD a touch higher on FOMC minutes' undovishness

USD a touch higher on FOMC minutes' undovishness

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