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Remember, Remember The 12th of December

12/12

If there was any surprise at yesterday's developments in Westminster it was the seemingly complete lack of surprise among investors. With the exception of the Canadian and NZ dollars, which lost about two thirds of a cent, sterling is practically unchanged against the other major currencies.

This morning's papers cover, with varying degrees of relish, the prospect of a general election in December. For all political parties a significant element of gamble is involved in the exercise. Über-psephologist John Curtice said in an interview that he expects "a record number of non-Labour and non-Conservative MPs" in the next parliament.  

Ahead of the vote on 12 December, sterling's progress - or lack thereof - will depend to a large extent on the opinion polls and the clarity of all parties regarding their stance on Brexit. At this stage, investors are not unduly nervous, hence the unchanged pound, but expect some reaction once the campaign rhetoric ramps up. 

No data shocks

Tuesday's ecostats were mostly unremarkable. There was nothing among them to set alarm bells ringing, though there were a couple of reminders that all might not be perfect. One of those was the expected, but still unwelcome, news of South African unemployment at 29.1%.

French consumer confidence (unchanged at 104 in October), Spanish retail sales (up by an annual 3.4% in September) and Italian producer prices (1.7% lower on the year) were the only numbers from Euroland. The Bank of England's Money and Credit report showed consumer credit running below average while mortgage borrowing was little changed.

In the States, the Case-Shiller index showed slowing growth in house prices as pending home sales scored their second monthly increase. The Conference Board reported that consumer confidence decreased marginally in October, from 126.3 to 125.9. Its report observed that "confidence levels remain high and there are no indications that consumers will curtail their holiday spending".

Fed yes, BoC no, RBA probably not

Aside from Brexit, today's hot topic is central bank monetary policy and the prospect of rate cuts. This morning's Australian inflation data have lessened the downward pressure on the Reserve Bank of Australia. After lunch, the Bank of Canada is expected to keep its benchmark unchanged at 1.75%. The US Federal Reserve is a different matter.

The general assumption is that the Fed will shave another 25 basis points off the federal funds rate; its third cut in four months. That much is 95% priced into the US dollar. What has not been priced in is the future course of Fed policy. For guidance on that, investors will pay close attention to what chairman Jay Powell has to say at his 18:30GMT press conference.

There are few heavyweight data on the agenda. Swiss and Italian business confidence, German unemployment and inflation and the European Commission confidence measures are all Europe has to offer. America reports on third quarter gross domestic product and ADP's employment change figure will be a pointer to Friday's jobs numbers.

GBP: Unmoved by election call

GBP: Unmoved by election call

NZD: At the back with the CAD

NZD: At the back with the CAD

USD: Fed rate cut expected today

USD: Fed rate cut expected today

ZAR: Stung by 29.1% jobless rate

ZAR: Stung by 29.1% jobless rate

CAD: Policy likely to be unchanged

CAD: Policy likely to be unchanged

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