Tuesday's US data did not add much to the debate. Redbook sales increased by 0.8% on the month and by an annual 7.9%; more than analysts had forecast but not enough to affect attitudes to the USD. It was the same with the Case-Shiller and FHFA house price indices: prices were up by less than expected but the gap was not wide. The Federal Reserve chairman was once again in the president's cross-hairs. Trump said he was "not even a little bit happy" at the way Jay Powell has continued the move towards tighter monetary policy, so he will have been less than delighted at what many construed to be a slightly hawkish speech by vice chair Richard Clarida. The USD was pleased enough though. It was among the day's top performers.
The EUR was at the rear end of the major currency field and this morning's crop of economic data did not help its case. Gfk's survey of German consumers found them less optimistic, and an acceleration in Italian producer prices went unnoticed. Italy was nevertheless in the spotlight, courtesy of its budget for 2019. Investors are unsure whether Rome will or will not revise its plan to run a 2.4% deficit for the year. Early in the week it appeared that it might, but the idea was dismissed by the government. The latest on the matter comes from finance minister Giovanni Tria, who acknowledged this morning that he must take into account the concerns of EU peers and financial markets. It is yet possible that the size of the deficit could be reduced. The EUR is down by 0.2%.
Although there were no Canadian statistics to affect their opinion, investors were inclined to stay away from the CAD as a result of the trade war rhetoric emanating from Washington. Whilst the focus of the US administration is on Beijing, not Ottawa, a downturn in international trade would hurt the Canadian economy, not least as a result of reduced demand for the country's commodity and energy exports. The CAD is 0.5% lower on the day.
With a vote on the Brexit deal now set for December 11, the prime minister had two weeks to sell her proposal to Parliament. It seems an impossible task, with those who seek a revised deal or a second referendum joining forces with die-hard Brexiteers to oppose the deal. Theresa May is making a whistle-stop tour to generate grass-root support for her plan: investors are far from convinced that she will succeed. That pessimism is a little less today though, after the PM announced that parliamentarians will be allowed to make amendments to the December 11 motion. After a late recovery the GBP is 0.3% higher on the day.
The JPY continued its listless drift lower. Whatever misgivings investors may have about the escalating trade war, their concern has not translated into demand for the safe-haven currency. There were no Japanese data to provide guidance, and no word from the politicians or the Bank of Japan. The JPY is down by 0.2%.