With the festive break over, and the grown-ups back at their desks, Monday was the first "proper" day of 2019 for financial markets. After due thought and consideration, investors came up with no new ideas. It all smacked more of head-scratching than resolve.
The only obvious carry-over from last week was yen weakness. It was the poorest performer for the second time in three days, falling 0.7% against sterling. A lower-than-expected 51.0 reading for Japan's services sector purchasing managers' index was not helpful but made no real contribution. Investors stayed away from the safe-haven yen because they see the newly-dovish Federal Reserve making life less precarious for the global economy. Atlanta Fed president Raphael Bostic reinforced that mood, saying that he only foresees one rate hike this year.
Leading the pack, not entirely coincidentally, were the Norwegian krone and the Canadian dollar. There were no economic statistics from Norway while Canada's Ivey PMI was three points above forecast at 59.7. Advantage Loonie then, but both got a lift from oil prices, which did not go down.
Europe accounted for most of Monday's ecostats. Those from Germany were mixed, as were the numbers from pan-Euroland. The Battle of the Wall simmered on in the United States while the Brexit debate was tainted by boorish demonstrators outside the Palace of Westminster.
Data for November showed German retail sales increasing by a monthly 1.4%, substantially more than the forecast 0.3%. At the same time, factory orders were down by 4.3% , stoking concern about a slowdown in "Europe's economic powerhouse". The Sentix index of euro zone investors put their confidence at -1.5, not as gloomy as expected but still a four-year low, partly as a result of Brexit and the civil unrest in France. A 0.6% rise in retail sales was not of any great help and the euro was unchanged against the pound and US dollar.
In the political arena Trump escalated his rhetoric about the Mexican Wall and the government shutdown. He will deliver a TV address on the subject tonight. As the Brexit debate regained speed in Westminster, protestors heaped ad hominem abuse on Anna Soubry during a live TV interview attracting criticism of the police by MPs.
The opposition Labour party has said it will support an amendment to today's finance bill, which aims to restrict the government's taxation powers in the case of a no-deal Brexit. Aside from the questionable efficacy of such a move, the vote should demonstrate which way Parliament leans.
Half of today's ecostats have already come and gone. Australia's dollar paid scant attention to a narrowing of the trade deficit which, confusingly, saw exports increasing by 1% as imports rose by 2%. German industrial production fell 1.9% in November. Swiss retail sales were down by an annual 0.5%. France's trade deficit widened.
The Halifax house price index is due this morning, followed by a swath of confidence readings from South Africa and Euroland. US data cover small business confidence and the trade deficit and Canada also reports on the balance of trade.