Leadership challenge complicates Brexit


Ironically, positive words from the US president were of little help to the USD. In an interview with Reuters he talked up the prospect of more discussions with the Chinese leadership and suggested that things were moving ahead on the trade front with the EU as well. He also said "In my opinion we are doing really well" with the economy. Trump's unusually emollient tone eased some of investors' fears and they felt less need for the sanctuary of the USD and safe-haven currencies.  

Economic data from the States did not come into the equation. The only ones available were the NFIB business optimism index, which was a couple points lower but still strong at 104.8, and the producer price index, which slowed to a 2.5% rise in the year to November.


Euroland industrial production increased by 0.2% in October and was up by 1.2% on the year. It was the only set of data from the euro zone and investors paid it as little attention as ever. The Euroland production figures come after the more important national readings have been revealed, so seldom deliver a surprise.

The messy Brexit process in London continues to hamper the euro. Although the impact - whatever it is - will have the greatest effect on Britain, it will also have implication for the euro zone.  The EUR was 0.4% lower on the day against the USD.


A better day for the Loonie saw it add 0.3% against the USD. There were no Canadian economic statistics but oil prices were up by 3.6% 

As much as anything, the CAD's modest rally was the result of the US president's reasonableness in the Reuters interview. Whilst he did not rule out further escalation of the trade war when China's deadline runs out on March 1 he did imply that the negotiations are productive.  As investors became less eager for safe-havens they drifted back into the supposedly risky commodity-related currencies, including the CAD.


With no UK data this morning investors were left to speculate about the Brexit process and how it might end. As if the uncertainty were not great enough already, the ruling Conservative party announced that a motion of no confidence has been brought against Prime Minister Theresa May.  Later today the Conservative members of parliament will vote on whether she should stay or go. A simple majority in her favour would end the matter and her position as party leader would be safe for at least another 12 months.  A majority against would mean a new party leader and therefore a new Prime Minister.

This latest development, paradoxically, has been marginally positive for the GBP. Investors reckon that, whichever way it goes, the chances are better that Brexit will not happen at all. The GBP is still lower on the day though, down by 0.6% against the USD.


The more relaxed tone in the White House meant reduced appetite for the safe-haven yen. It gave up 0.4% to the USD after steady downward progress. 

Japanese economic data released overnight related to domestic corporate goods - factory gate - prices and machinery orders. Corporate good prices fell 0.3% in November, slowing the annual pace of increase from 3.0% to 2.3%. Machinery orders were up by 7.6% in October, having fallen by 18.3% the previous month. 

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