Britain vs Europe
Any investor who was able on Friday morning to forecast this morning's opening exchange rates is a lucky genius. Realistically, there was zero chance of getting the event outcomes right as well as predicting the market's reaction. Who could have imagined sterling would open higher on the back of a football result?
Yes, England beat Sweden at footy on Saturday night and the pound gapped higher when the Far East got going this morning. It has given back most of those gains but sterling is still, on average, fractionally firmer on the day. Sterling is up by four fifths of a US cent and flat against the euro and the franc.
Theresa May's lock-in cabinet meeting on Friday was the real reason for sterling's mini-rally. There was unanimous (if sometimes reluctant) support for the latest Brexit proposal, known as Plan C. It projects cooperation rather than bridge-burning and, in the opinion of investors, will be less damaging to the economy and the pound than the rocks below the cliff edge. The resignation of Brexit minister David Davis rather complicates the situation but can hardly make it worse.
USA vs World
On Friday, as promised, America fired up a new set of tariffs on Chinese goods and China returned the compliment. Having been wound up about it by the US president for the last three months, investors took it in their stride. They were less nonchalant about the US employment report though.
There is no shortage of economists pushing the line that, as currently deployed, the tariffs and counter-tariffs should have no seriously damaging effect on the global economy. They will make life less fun for the people of China and America, who will have to pay more for things, and they will cost jobs. But they will improve Trump's standing with his nationalist fan base ahead of the mid-term elections and that, after all, is their purpose.
Friday's nonfarm payrolls figures gave the president something else to brag about. June's 213k increase, together with upward revisions to earlier months, showed a net 55k more people in work than analysts had forecast. Investors' joy was not unconstrained though, because other components of the employment report were less impressive. Earnings growth slowed and unemployment went up from 3.8% to 4.0%.
Investors vs Boredom
After the last few days' excitement of tariff-slapping, Brexit planning, nonfarm payrolling and quarter-finaling, today promises to be relaxingly dull. Activity will focus more on retrospective analysis than forward planning.
Almost no statistical entertainment is scheduled for the London session. Swiss unemployment (2.6%) and Germany's trade surplus (€20.3bn) are already out of the way and all that remains are Euroland investor confidence and US consumer credit. BRC retail sales, Chinese inflation and Australian business confidence come out tonight.
On the Brexit front today's key events will be the appointment of a replacement for David Davis and Theresa May's sales pitch to backbench MPs. A leadership challenge looks less likely than ever.