Psst! You're fired

Revolving door

The only thing worse than being summarily fired is learning about it from a bloke on the train or, in the case of US secretary of state Rex Tillerson, on Twitter. Mr Tillerson wasn't best pleased and nor were investors. Share prices and the US dollar were marked down.

It was not that investors were particularly surprised that the man who allegedly called Mr Trump a moron had got the sack . Rather, they were taken aback at its timing, a week after Gary Cohn was pushed out of the administration. There was also concern that the new secretary of state will be Michael Pompeo, who is said to be ideologically aligned with the president on trade and foreign policy. His appointment has reawakened concerns about a trade war.

The US dollar lost a swift half-cent when the news came out. On the day it is down by three quarters of a cent against the euro and a proportionally-similar seven eighths of a cent against sterling. The Australian and NZ dollars suffered almost to the same extent as the Greenback, hurt by the prospect of renewed trade tensions.

Various statements

Two statements attracted attention on Tuesday, one by Britain's finance minister and the other by Canada's central bank governor. Philip Hammond's was modestly positive for sterling: Stephen Poloz's cost the Loonie a cent.

Chancellor Hammond was unusually upbeat when he presented his spring statement, urging the House to imagine him as Tigger (easier said than done). The budget is under control at last and the OBR has upped its estimates for UK economic growth in the coming five years to 1.5%, 1.3%, 1.3%, 1.4% and 1.5%. Yes, those numbers look miserable but the forecast made six months ago was even more wretched. Anyway, they were good enough to keep sterling at the front of the field for a second day, sharing the honours with the euro and the franc.

Governor Poloz observed that younger people are under-represented in the labour market, casting doubt on the idea that full employment is within reach. That, in turn, cast doubt on the Bank of Canada's appetite for higher interest rates.

Retail sales and GDP

Tuesday's economic statistics were completely overshadowed by political events. The same could be the case today but at least there will be some numbers to occupy investors if there is no fresh turnover of personnel at the White House. US retail sales and NZ fourth quarter growth are the highest-profile ecostats.

Yesterday's figures for US inflation were exactly in line with forecast, with the headline rate at 2.2%. Today's retail sales numbers are less easy to predict. Analysts are looking for a 0.3% monthly increase to reverse January's 0.3% decline but their forecasting accuracy in recent months has been woeful. Gross domestic product data from New Zealand tonight are expected to put Q4 growth at 0.7%.

The European Central Bank is holding an all-day event called "The ECB and its Watchers".