USD: In most circumstances a 59.8 reading from ISM's purchasing managers' index would be cause for at least modest celebration. On a 0-100 index where anything above 50 indicates expansion, a figure close to 60 is, after all, a fairly punchy number. But investors were less than blown away on Monday. The manufacturing PMI was a point and a half lower on the month and half a point below forecast. The USD did move higher against the EUR but that was more to do with investors' wariness about the common currency: it lost ground to the JPY.
EUR: When the Eurogroup of euro zone finance ministers met on Monday Italy's representative Giovanni Tria was reportedly grilled about the draft deficit budget that carries his name. It is a tricky time for Sen. Tria, a technocrat who belongs to neither of the Italian coalition partners but was drafted in to give the Italian treasury a respectable face. The other Eurogroup finance ministers are concerned by "his" plan for a deficit of 2.4% of GDP in 2019. Investors are concerned too. Italian 10-year government bond yields touched a 4 1/2 year high of 3.40% this morning as investors demanded a premium of more than three percentage points over German bunds. Almost as an aside, the Euroland manufacturing PMI was just about on target at 53.2: nobody cared. The EUR suffered on Monday and was under pressure again this morning, down by 0.8% on the day against the USD.
CAD: By the time New York opened on Monday the USMCA trade deal was fully priced into the CAD. Investors liked what they saw and were relieved that North America would not find itself without an almost-free-trade framework. There was not much upward mileage left in the trade deal then, and Canada's manufacturing PMI did nothing to improve the Loonie's case either. At 54.8 it was two points lower on the month and two points short of analysts' consensus forecast. The result was a loss of 0.2% for the CAD against the USD.
GBP: Britain's manufacturing PMI was the only one among the majors to move higher on the month and beat forecast. At 53.8 it was far from a hands-down winner but with investors it is the relative, not the absolute, that floats their boat. Together with an unexpected increase in monthly mortgage approvals, the PMI reading was positive for the GBP. This morning's construction PMI was of less help; lower on the month and below forecast at 52.1. A burst of volatility sent the GBP spiking higher on Monday before it quickly came back to earth. Bloomberg reported that Britain had reached an agreement with the EU about the internal Irish border but a government minister denied the story. Sterling fell 0.6% against the USD.
JPY: Beyond the Bank of Japan's Tankan survey, reported yesterday, there were no Japanese data on Monday's agenda and none this morning either. The yen's movement was the by-product of investors' attitude to risk and, courtesy of the USMCA, they were feeling quite brave. The safe-haven JPY was not in demand and it spent the day drifting. That mood changed this morning in Europe as investors reawakened their concerns about Italy. In four hours the JPY strengthened by 0.8%, leaving it 1.0% higher on the day.