Looking for inspiration

More green please
Researchers have discovered that the therapeutic benefits of nature and plants are valid even when they are only representative images. A team at Holland's Vrie University have found that simply looking at onscreen greenery can reduce stress levels. Of course, investors have known this for years, always preferring green to red.

Red numbers mean falling prices and rather too many of them were attached to sterling yesterday. Having strengthened by an average of 0.3% between Friday morning and Monday morning the pound gave it all back over the last 24 hours. It lost a third of a US cent and half a Swiss cent. Sterling was an insignificant dozen ticks lower against the euro and it collected half a yen from the day's back marker.

The pound did nothing particularly wrong (and to be fair it did not fall particularly far). The day's only UK economic data were Rightmove's index of house asking prices, which went up by a monthly 1.3% and an annual 7.6%, and the CBI's Industrial Trends Survey, which was in line with forecasts and three points higher at -14.

Ooh, a new phone
An American technology firm announced a new mobile phone that is a slightly different size from its predecessor. Two regional Federal Reserve presidents said US interest rates could go up next month. None of it mattered in the great scheme of things but there was little else to occupy investors.

Euroland's current account surplus in January was a seasonally-adjusted €25.4bn. US existing home sales were down by -7.1% in February. Euro zone consumer confidence deteriorated to a provisional -9.7 in March. Australian house prices were reported to be 8.7% higher on the year. Wake up at the back!

John Williams, the president of the San Francisco Federal Reserve, said in an interview that he might be inclined to support a rate increase when the Federal Open Market Committee meets in April. His opposite number at the Atlanta Fed, Dennis Lockhart, told the Rotary Club of Savannah a similar tale. However, neither of them currently has a vote on the FOMC so their opinions don't count for so much.

Inflation and debt
As if to make up for yesterday's dearth of data a veritable flood of figures fills today's agenda. Chief among them, from sterling's point of view, will be the UK numbers for inflation and public sector borrowing. 

Already out, Switzerland reported a wider trade surplus and two of the three provisional French purchasing managers' index readings came in above 50, indicating expansion. There are more PMIs to come from Germany and the €Z and there will be investor and business confidence figures from Germany.

The headline rate of UK inflation is projected to be steady at 0.3% with "core" inflation (which ignores fuel and other volatile components) unchanged at 1.2%. It is hard to imagine the data being far enough out of bounds to alter investors' expectation of no rate increase this year.