Truant's Day

Political uncertainty

Picture this: In the last month inflation has accelerated to 10.4%, the economy has been reported to have shrunk by a quarterly -1.4% and two presidents face impeachment for corruption. Bad news for the currency then? Nope, the exceptional Brazilian real has proved every rule by getting 10% stronger.

In the vast majority of cases domestic political turmoil is bad for financial markets. In Brazil, however, the currency is up by a tenth and share prices have risen by 17.5% over the last month. Investors believe that President Dilma Rousseff's regime is on days-to-do and that a new government will turn around the ailing Brazilian economy. Whilst their optimism could well turn out to be misplaced, it is currently doing wonders for the real.

Sterling has been less successful at bucking the trend today. The split between the prime minister and his work and pensions secretary has given rise to renewed concerns about Britain's continued presence within the European Union. The pound opened lower in the Far East this morning, wiping out some of the gains it had made on Thursday and Friday against the other major currencies. It is stronger on the day by an average of 0.3% but only because of downward pressure on the commodity currencies.


Seven years at 0.5%

Thursday's Bank of England policy decision surprised no one, with the 0.5% Bank Rate celebrating its seventh birthday after a unanimous decision by the Monetary Policy Committee. The guardedly upbeat economic tone of the MPC minutes was positive for the pound.

There had evidently been some out there who saw a chance that the MPC might consider lower - even negative - interest rates if the UK economy were to slow. The minutes of last week's meeting appeared to dismiss that idea, as "the MPC's best collective judgement is that it is more likely than not that Bank Rate will need to increase over the forecast period". The committee also observed that uncertainty about the EU referendum "is likely to have been a significant driver of the decline in sterling".

The euro also did reasonably well at the end of last week, helped by a positive 0.2% headline inflation figure. At the front of the pack the US dollar and the Japanese yen strengthened by 0.3% - nearly half a US cent - against sterling. Bringing up the rear the NZ dollar was down by two cents or -0.9% and the Aussie was in the penultimate spot with a loss of one cent. 


World poetry day

Japan's observance of the vernal equinox and international celebrations of poetry, forests and puppetry are likely to set the metaphorical tone for the first day of this shortened week. There are no big-deal ecostats.

Rightmove opened the batting with a 7.6% annual increase in house asking prices. This morning's CBI industrial trends survey will report on UK manufacturers' order books.

US existing home sales come out after lunch and the EC reports on consumer confidence.