UK parliament breaks new ground


The USD was among the leaders on Tuesday, even though it did nothing to distinguish itself. Its success was more the result of weakness among the second- and third-division currencies than of anything to be found among the US ecostats.

Only one of the numbers from the States came in above forecast. The FHFA housing price index was up by a monthly 0.6%, beating the expected 0.3% rise. The Case-Shiller index of house prices rose by an annual 3.6% in January but that represented a slowdown in house price inflation from the 4.1% reported a month earlier. Housing starts and building permits declined in February, with starts falling 8.7%. Consumer confidence faded more than seven points to 124.1. The Richmond Fed's manufacturing index was six points lower at 10. 


The euro fell 0.3% against the USD. It declined steadily through the New York day and paused overnight before recovering a little ground in the early European session.

Data from euro were no more helpful than those from the United States. French producer prices rose 0.4% in February and consumer confidence ticked up to 96 this month. Both are theoretically positive for the EUR, but investors pay less attention to the French data than they do to the numbers from Germany. Italian consumer and business confidence both declined in March. This morning European Central Bank president Mario Draghi told an audience in Frankfurt that there could be a further delay in raising interest rates.


Steady against the USD, the Canadian dollar succeeded by the simple act of doing nothing. It is unchanged against the Greenback. There were no Canadian economic data and the price of WTI crude moved less than a dozen cents.


Sterling found itself in a hiatus between Monday's decision by parliament to hold a series of exploratory votes and the enactment of those votes today. Save for a handful of ticks it is unchanged on the day against the USD. The only UK economic statistic this morning was the Confederation of British Industry's retail sales measure, which looked fairly unpleasant at -18%. March was the fourth consecutive month in which sales have not grown, according to the CBI data.  

There will be a great deal of interest among investors in the indicative votes by MPs today. Sixteen have been proposed, ranging from compliance with the will of the people, through a confirmatory referendum to revocation of Britain's Article 50 resignation from the EU. It will be a paper ballot and MPs can vote for or against as many as they choose. Not all 16 will be called by the speaker for debate and it is unclear whether the government will attempt to make Conservative MPs toe the party line. The procedure is wholly unfamiliar and even the most knowledgeable commentators do not know what to expect.


The JPY is also unchanged against the GBP, CAD and USD. It covered a range of less than half a yen. There were no Japanese economic data to provide guidance and no swings in sentiment towards or away from the safe-haven offered by the JPY.

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