Odds and ends
Numbers don't count
Scalextric slot-racing's world championship came to its climax on Saturday when Ted Trim, a son-of-two from Theydon Bois, carried off the title. The next major sporting competition kicks off on Friday, with the heats for the Hungry Hippos world cup. By then, the FX market will have worked itself into a torpor.
There were remnants of interest on Friday. Australia started the ball rolling, with business confidence rising to an eight-month high. A similar measure from China also showed an improvement and house prices there went up for a second month. The Bank of Japan surprised no one when it kept the target band for its benchmark interest rate at 0-0.1%, where it has been for more than five years. The Australian dollar and the Japanese yen both strengthened by 0.5% on the day against sterling.
An uptick in Norwegian unemployment from 2.9% to 3% did the krone no harm as it picked up a 0.3% gain. Similarly, disappointing Canadian retail sales and a lower-than-expected 1.4% headline rate of inflation did not prevent the Loonie edging higher against the pound. Provisional purchasing managers' indices from the States were lower on the month but did not get in the dollar's way as it a dozen or so ticks.
From the above, it can be seen that mediocre ecostats from around the world did not give sterling any breathing space. Since last Monday it has lost ground to every one of the other dozen most actively-traded currencies, falling by an average of -1.5%.
The UK interest rate hike story has lost its appeal. Monetary Policy Committee member Martin Weale told the Daily Telegraph on Saturday that "a surprise 'pause in wage growth' and further falls in commodity prices made the need for tighter policy 'slightly less immediate'". It was a significant comment from Mr Weale who, apart from perma-hawk Ian McCafferty, has been the only MPC member to vote for a rate increase in the last four years.
It is only of vague consolation to see that the US dollar, the Canadian dollar and the Swedish krona did almost as badly as the pound on Friday. Over the last week they have strengthened, respectively, by 1.9%, 0.4% and 1.5%.
A couple of months after Portugal's indecisive general election left the country with a minority government, Sunday's vote has left Spain in a similar bind. Whilst the electorate could not complain about the Spanish economy's return to growth, they were less happy with bureaucracy, taxation and unemployment.
There is no euro crisis here. A coalition will be formed, which will get on with government. The Iberian story does, however, increase concern that the spread of nonconformist politics in Europe could strain the union.
Today's economic statistics all come from this side of the Atlantic. German factory gate prices are already out, falling for a sixth month. Yet to come are Euroland consumer confidence and the CBI's measure of UK retail sales.