Daily Brief

At least Godot was vaguely entertaining

Waiting for inspiration

Investors appreciate something to wait for, especially when they have run out of ideas. Having to wait for something is an excuse to do nothing, and that is what most of them are doing at the moment. The waiting in this case relates to speaking appearances by Fed chairman Jerome Powell tomorrow and Thursday.

Legislation introduced forty years ago, known colloquially as the "Humphrey-Hawkins Act" after its sponsors, requires the Federal Reserve chairman to submit a Monetary Policy Report to Congress twice a year. On Wednesday Jerome Powell will talk about the report in the House of Representatives and on Thursday he will do the same in front of the Senate.

Investors are waiting to hear his opinion on the future course of interest rates. Will there be a cut at the end of this month? If so, how big will it be?  And will there be another later this year? Of course, Mr Powell is unlikely to commit to anything specific, but that will not prevent markets "interpreting" his comments. For good measure, there are another seven appearances by Fed bosses before the weekend, as well as the FOMC minutes tomorrow.

Waiting for organizer

The Greek election at the weekend was a master class in efficient democracy. Prime minister Tsipras resigned on Sunday and prime minister Miktsotakis was installed on Monday. Some 5.75 million votes were cast. In Britain things are a little different, and waiting is the name of the game.

Seven weeks have passed since Theresa May tendered her resignation and her replacement is not expected to turn up for another fortnight. This two-month interregnum is surely not what EU president Donald Tusk had in mind when, back in April, he agreed to postpone Brexit to 31 October and said "please do not waste this time".  

Since Mr Tusk made that unheeded warning sterling has fallen an average of 4%, losing four and a half euro cents, six US cents, seven Swiss cents and nine and a half Japanese yen. It is possible that investors are not wholly impressed by the British political process. Sterling did have a day's reprieve yesterday though. Muted activity on all fronts left it unchanged on average and close behind the leader, the US dollar.

Central bankers

Today's ecostat agenda is hardly any busier than Monday's. There will, though, be a plethora of central bankers taking to the podium. The Fed will be putting up m/s Powell (cameo appearance, not the main event), Bullard, Quarles and Bostic. Reserve Bank of New Zealand governor Adrian Orr is also likely to make an appearance.

Britain opened the batting overnight with the BRC's retail sales measure. The report called it "the worst June on record" and described the overall picture as "bleak". NAB's monthly business survey was not exactly bleak but Australia's "business sector has lost significant momentum" and "conditions remain below average". The Aussie lost ground on the news.

The rest of the data on today's list should be uncontroversial: Italian retail sales, US small-business confidence, Canadian housing starts and building permits. Tonight comes Australian consumer confidence, followed by the Chinese consumer and producer price indices.

GBP: A tough three months

GBP: A tough three months

USD: Fed speakers line  up

USD: Fed speakers line up

AUD: Business conditions below average

AUD: Business conditions below average

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