Daily Brief

Daily Brief

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Pound lower

Overwhelmingly unlikely

Sterling gave another demonstration of its "emerging market currency" qualities on Tuesday, falling an average of 0.6% against the majors and only just managing to keep pace with the South African rand. Losses included seven eighths of a US cent and two thirds of a euro cent. Brexit is the suspect.

There was a frisson yesterday morning when Downing Street declared that EU approval of the prime minister's withdrawal proposal was "overwhelmingly unlikely". That was allegedly the opinion of Germany's chancellor, delivered over the phone. Angela Merkel's office refused to comment and European Council president Donald Tusk characterised the Prime Minister as being unconstructive.

Investors' reaction was overwhelmingly negative, and the pound retreated for the next six hours before finding bottom and recovering slightly during the afternoon. It is not clear - and it does not really matter - whether investors were genuinely surprised and worried at the news or if they were simply delivering a well-honed collective Pavlovian response. Nor it is evident that they now see a no-deal Brexit on 31 October as more likely.

It's QE but not as we know it

Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell gave a speech yesterday evening explaining why monetary policy remains "data dependent". That being the case, he offered no suggestion as to where or when rates will be moving next. He did, though, set out some ideas about the management of reserves.

Mr Powell said the bank will take measures to rectify increased volatility in wholesale funding markets. These will include "increasing our securities holdings to maintain an appropriate level of reserves". For the avoidance of doubt, the chairman said this "should in no way be confused" with the quantitative easing employed after the financial crisis. Investors took him at his word and there was little reaction from the dollar, which is on average unchanged.

Tuesday's ecostats added little new to the mix. Canadian housing starts and building permits were stronger than forecast but made no difference to the Loonie. US producer price inflation slowed from 1.8% to 1.4% in September.

Two minutes

Central banks feature again on today's agenda, with little in the way of supporting acts. This morning the Bank of England releases the minutes of the Financial Policy Committee meeting and at suppertime the Fed publishes the Federal Open Market Committee minutes.

The first of those is unlikely to move the dial for sterling. The second comes three hours after another speaking appearance by Fed chairman Jay Powell, and the two together may cast more light on the rate outlook.

Today began with Westpac's survey of Australian consumer sentiment, which hit a four-year low. The other figures cover South African business confidence and US wholesale inventories. There are plenty of numbers tonight though: UK house prices from the RICS, Japanese producer prices and machinery orders, New Zealand inflation and Australian home loans and inflation expectations.

GBP: EU rejects withdrawal proposal

GBP: EU rejects withdrawal proposal

USD: Fed asset purchases will not be QE

USD: Fed asset purchases will not be QE

CAD: Stronger housing data

CAD: Stronger housing data

AUD: Consumer confidence at four-year low

AUD: Consumer confidence at four-year low

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