Reasons to be gloomy

Part one

Germany is proposing an additional tax on petrol to generate financial aid for migrants. The United Nations wants to tax football for the same purpose. No wonder then that for Penzance-based Dundee United supporters, today is the most depressing day of the year. Oh, and for sterling's supporters too.

In reality the list extends well beyond Dundee and the pound. Anyone invested in diesel cars, steel production, oil or just about any equity market in the world will be finding it difficult to drum up enthusiasm this Monday morning. The pound had another dismal day on Friday, dropping nearly two euro cents between London's opening and the close of trading in San Francisco. It has picked up a little in the Far East this morning but is still down by a net 1% against the euro and the US dollar.

It would be splitting hairs to say sterling was not the weakest performer on the day: gains of 0.2% against the rand and 0.1% against the Canadian dollar hardly count as triumphs and it lost -0.7% to Norway's krone despite oil trading below $30 a barrel for the first time since February 2004. The pound lost an average of -0.6% against the other dozen most actively-traded currencies and is down by -1.3% for the year to date (i.e. a fortnight).

US ecostats disappoint

William Dudley, the president of the New York Federal Reserve and an ex officio member of the rate-setting Federal Open Market Committee, said in a speech on Friday that US interest rates remain likely to rise further this year despite economic concerns. Investors are not so sure.

Mr Dudley's argument that "in terms of the economic outlook, the situation does not appear to have changed much since the last FOMC meeting" was not in tune with his colleague James Bullard's comments the previous day. Mr Bullard, who last year was a major cheerleader for higher rates, was distinctly un-hawkish on Thursday. Whilst he agreed that a further percentage-point increase this year looks "about right", he also said the decline in inflation expectations "is becoming worrisome".

Friday's US ecostats looked a bit worrisome too. Capacity utilisation fell to its lowest level since 2011, industrial production fell for a fifth successive month and retail sales were down. A three-quarter-point improvement in consumer sentiment still left it five points lower than a year ago.

Data deficiency

No serious economic statistics are scheduled for release during today's London session. None. Not a single one. New York will be closed for Martin Luther King day.

At midnight on Sunday Rightmove's index of asking prices showed UK property values increasing by 6.5% over the last 12 months. It represented a slowdown from the 7.4% rise in the year to December.

Things become more interesting tomorrow morning when China publishes the figures for retail sales, industrial production, urban investment and fourth quarter gross domestic product. All will be crucial to investor sentiment and risk appetite.