Daily Brief

Daily Brief

See recent articles

Brexit Debate 2.0 - This Time It's Serious

All you need to know

The BBC website carries a piece optimistically entitled "Brexit: All you need to know about the UK leaving the EU". All you need to know. If only. With 79 days to go until Britain leaves Europe, all you know is that you know almost nothing. And that was why investors were antsy yesterday.

The possible outcomes are at least as numerous today, at the metaphorical eleventh hour, as they were more than 1,000 days ago when the people made their decision to leave. The situation is not new but it seemed to be of particular concern to investors yesterday, with less than a week to go until the "meaningful vote". With nothing to support it other than the possibility of a protest vote in the Common, sterling spent the entire London session in retreat.

That protest vote, on an amendment to the finance bill, did result in a government defeat, creating an obstacle to the government's pursuit of a no-deal Brexit. The result suggested that Parliament will not stand idly by and allow no deal to occur. For that, investors eventually cut sterling some slack, lifting it from its lows later in the evening. It was still a bad day for the pound though, with an unwanted wooden spoon and an average 0.3% loss.

Trade walls

Away from Brexit the focus was on Sino-American trade and Trump's relentless quest for a Mexican Wall. The former was vaguely helpful to risk-appetite, allowing the commodity-related currencies to move ahead: the latter was vaguely depressing.

Positive words from Washington and Beijing allowed investors to hope that the trade war might at last have an end in sight. The first round of talks concluded today and the results will be known soon. As investors see it, both sides have an incentive to strike a deal and their optimism should survive as long as the negotiations continue. The US president appeared on TV overnight, beseeching Congress to let him have his Mexican Wall. Until and unless it does, he will enforce the partial government shutdown. The speech included nothing new.

Although sterling was Tuesday's tail-end Charlie, the safe-haven Japanese yen was only a gnat's whisker ahead of it and the US dollar, the euro and the Swiss franc did little better. The Aussie was the winner with a one-cent advantage.

The great debate

Parliament will pick up where it left off before Christmas, trying to square the circle of a Brexit deal that is unpopular with the desire for a Brexit deal that is not available. The Bank of England governor will make an appearance, the Bank of Canada will make a rate decision and the Federal Open Market Committee minutes come out this evening.

It would be too much to expect anything from the Brexit debate at this stage, other than speculative commentary from the sidelines. The FOMC minutes predate last Friday's dovish comments by the Fed chairman. And Mark Carney's topic is apparently "future money". So investors might have to focus on the economic data and hope for something from the BoC.

The assumption is that the BoC will keep its benchmark rate at 1.75% while pointing to higher rates in the future. The higher it points, the better for the Loonie.

GBP the loser, sunk by Brexit uncertainty

GBP the loser, sunk by Brexit uncertainty

USD not helped by presidential address

USD not helped by presidential address

EUR unchanged against the US dollar

EUR unchanged against the US dollar

AUD leads in risk-on markets

AUD leads in risk-on markets

CAD firmer ahead of BoC announcement

CAD firmer ahead of BoC announcement

Weekly roundup

Weekly roundup

Go to Weekly round up
Personal payments

Personal payments

With a personal account you can enjoy competitive exchange rates and low fees on all your payments.

Find out more
Foreign exchange business solutions

FX business solutions

We provide tailored services to help companies make global payments and manage their foreign exchange risk

Find out more
Travel money

Travel money

Order your travel money for branch collection or secure it on our explorer multi-currency Mastercard®

Find out more