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Picking a speaker

Sterling fades

Following Saturday's rugby match, sterling is near the back of the field, a whisker ahead of the Japanese yen, while the South African rand has powered ahead of the major currencies, strengthening by 1.9% on the day and 2.2% on the week. It is not all necessarily about sentiment though.

On Friday evening, Moody's, one of the most influential credit rating firms, announced it would not be downgrading South Africa's debt and that it would remain at Baa3, one notch above "junk" status. Although Moody's did mark down the outlook to negative, "citing a deterioration in the economic growth outlook and rising debt", there was a good deal of relief that the rating itself was maintained.

The defining event of Friday was supposed to have been the US employment report. An addition of just under 90k people to nonfarm payrolls was predicted; smaller than the usual number because of strike at General Motors and the trade war. In fact, payrolls increased by 128k. With revisions to earlier months, there were 104k more people than expected in work. Although the US dollar's initial response was positive, it failed to consolidate the gains. It is unchanged against the euro and a quarter of a cent higher against sterling.

All Saints Day

Holidays in Europe meant delays to many of the manufacturing sector purchasing managers index readings. Britain's 49.6 was better than forecast and beat Switzerland's 49.4. Both were trounced by the 53.5 from Greece.

The two US readings from Markit and the ISM once again told different stories. Markit's version, equivalent to most of the other PMI readings, indicated contraction at 48.3. ISM's, the one with the longest track record and the favoured measure among investors, was in the growth zone at 51.3. Canada scored a 51.2 from Markit.

PMIs and US jobs dominated the economic agenda on Friday. Swiss inflation sneaked through at -0.3%, down from +0.1%, and retail sales there were up by an annual 0.9% in September.

Filling the gaps

The European data postponed from Friday will appear this morning - manufacturing PMIs and investor confidence. Britain's construction PMI is expected to show a continued slowdown in the sector. Australia reported this morning that retail sales increased by a monthly 0.2% in September.

The most eagerly-awaited of today's events is a speech by Christine Lagarde, who took over from Mario Draghi on Friday as President of the European Central Bank. Expect a renewed call for EU governments to provide fiscal assistance, given the ECB's depleted armoury.

In the House of Commons, the only item on the order paper is the election of a speaker to replace John Bercow, who retired on Thursday. Unsurprisingly, there is a row about the vote taking place today, with many MPs involved elsewhere in electioneering.

GBP: Close to the back despite PMI near miss

GBP: Close to the back despite PMI near miss

ZAR: Way out ahead after rating confirmation

ZAR: Way out ahead after rating confirmation

USD: Not much changed by employment report

USD: Not much changed by employment report

EUR: New ECB president speaks today

EUR: New ECB president speaks today

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