Brewers buoy sterling
Youngsters in search of a career could do worse than consider training as a NHS accountant. One of them in Kent is reported today as being paid £1m a year for saving money. That is almost twice as much as the three Federal Reserve chiefs, who spoke yesterday, earn together.
They didn't exactly speak together though. Charles Evans, the Chicago Fed president, stuck to his call for no move this year with only slow and incremental increases in 2016. Lael Brainard, a Fed governor, tended to agree with him, saying it was a time for "watching and waiting" because the economic outlook is "tilted to the downside". Dennis Lockhart, the head of the Atlanta Fed, put forward the opposite view. He insisted that "October is a live meeting" and if the data available then are insufficient to support a rate increase "we will have a lot more in December".
Investors were not convinced either way. They had heard it all before. The sense, though, was that they didn't care, that the debate has now descended to angels-on-the-head-of-a-pin status and that there can be no clear answer until the Federal Open Market Committee meets. The US dollar was therefore left untouched, holding steady against sterling, the euro and the Swiss franc and moving by no more than half cent against everything else. Except the Canadian dollar.
The Canadian dollar set off to the southeast ahead of London's opening and it continued its decline until the City packed up for the day. There were no economic statistics to provoke the move but it was helped on its way by a 5% fall in oil prices.
A speech by Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz had minimal impact on the currency. Although he did talk about monetary policy it was only in the context of financial stability. The Reserve Bank of Australia's deputy governor Philip Lowe delivered an equally-unstirring oration. He was upbeat about the "strong" fundamentals of the Australian economy but stressed the importance of "flexibility" in monetary policy.
Yesterday's few ecostats brought nothing to the table. Portuguese inflation accelerated from 0.7% to 0.9% and that was it. Overnight, the useful 2.6% annual increase in UK retail sales reported by the British Retail Consortium did nothing to assist sterling. What did make a difference, though, was another set of crummy Chinese trade figures which cost the Aussie a cent. Exports were down by an annual -1.1% and imports by a whopping -17.7%.
There are inflation data this morning from Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Britain and, tonight, Japan and China. None of them ought to influence interest rate expectations or, therefore, the currency concerned. Other ecostats cover Euroland investor sentiment and Australian consumer confidence.
An hour ahead of London's opening this morning the pound jumped half a cent higher against the US dollar and the euro. The blip was caused by news that the long-awaited takeover of SABMiller by ABInbev had at last been sealed.