Sterling the winner on hopes that “no-deal” is averted


Equities are off their lows and the USD's attraction as a safe-haven has faded somewhat. It is down by 0.2% against the EUR and up by 0.2% against the even safer-haven JPY. Thursday's US economic data were on average positive for the currency. The ADP employment change number was lower than expected at 179k while continuing jobless claims were better than forecast, leaving the consensus for today's nonfarm payrolls figure unchanged at 200k, a little below the 213k average monthly increase for the year to date. The ISM's services sector purchasing managers' index came in at a healthy 60.7, a point and a half better than expected, while factory orders surprised on the downside with a 2.1% decline.  

When Fed chairman Jay Powell addressed a conference in Washington he said the economy is "performing very well overall", but it was not enough to allay doubts about a possible softening of Fed policy; the probability of a rate hike this month has fallen to around 60%, according to futures pricing.


Investors were not overjoyed to hear this morning that French president Emanuel Macron intends to deploy 99k police in Paris this weekend in anticipation of renewed rioting. With his popularity down to 20%, Mr Macron's ability to take over from Germany's Angela Merkel as the flag-bearer for European order has been called into question. In general the political picture in the EU looks less than perfect, with nationalist parties creeping into the mainstream and Italy defying the European Commission with its deficit budget.

This morning's Euroland ecostats were unhelpful to the EUR. German industrial production declined by 0.5% in October, Italian retail sales increased by a feeble 0.1% on the month and pan-euro-zone growth in the year to September was downwardly revised to 1.6%.


Although the Canadian economic data managed to tick none of the boxes on Thursday the CAD still managed to strengthen by 0.3% against the USD.  By the time the figures came out, the CAD had already began to correct some of the losses incurred following the Bank of Canada's dovish policy statement.  After whipsawing for an hour or two the CAD resumed its upward drift, coming to a halt at the end of the day and remaining steady overnight.

As for those numbers, the trade deficit widened slightly in October and the Ivey purchasing managers' index deteriorated by four and a half points to 57.2. Today's Canadian employment data are expected to deliver an 11k increase in employment. 


Sterling was the overall leader among the major currencies, by an average of 0.5%, and it went up by 0.1% against the USD.  It was quite an achievement in view of the uncertainty surrounding the chaotic Brexit process.  As previously noted, investors seem to have decided that recent developments in Parliament have taken a no-deal Brexit off the table.  Rightly or wrongly they believe that Britain will ultimately end up with some version of the prime minister's "soft" Brexit.  

There were no UK economic data today.  Ahead of Tuesday's vote there will be figures for manufacturing and industrial output and the revision to Q3 growth on Monday and wages and employment on Tuesday.


As equity prices regained an even keel investors lost some of their appetite for the safe-havens.  The JPY was the back market among the majors, falling by 0.2% against the USD.  Figures released this morning showed pre-tax incomes in Japan rising by 1.5% in the year to October.  That might look feeble but it is a signal improvement on the downwardly-revised 0.8% increase in the year to September.  The coincident and leading economic indicators prepared by the Cabinet Office both improved in October, to 104.5 and 100.5 respectively.

Over the weekend Japan will reveal the revisions to third quarter growth.  The economy is forecast to have contracted by an annualized 1.9% in Q3.

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