Loonie laid low
HitchBOT, a hitchhiking robot, crossed Canada last year and went on to cover Germany and Holland. Its latest mission was to traverse the US but after less than a fortnight HitchBOT was slain in Philadelphia. No policemen or dentists are thought to be involved: they were too busy with the Loonie.
The Canadian dollar came under sustained fire on Friday after gross domestic product was reported to have shrunk by -0.2% in May. Analysts had not been at all ambitious about the GDP number: they had forecast 0.0% growth. But news of a fifth month of zero or negative growth for Canada inevitably brought out the sellers and the Loonie became Friday's biggest flop with a loss of two cents. The Canadian dollar also delivered the weakest performance on the week and the month among the major currencies.
The euro edged ahead on Friday, strengthening by a third of a cent against sterling. However, it was the British pound that held the overall lead, strengthening by an average of 0.9% and 2.4% on the week and the month against the other dozen most actively-traded currencies.
Aside from the Canadian dollar's -1% decline, net movements on Friday were modest. Except for a dozen or so ticks the US, Australian and NZ dollars, the South African rand, the Swiss franc, the Swedish krona and the Japanese yen were unchanged against sterling.
Friday's top-billing ecostat was the Euroland consumer price index. Inflation came in at a provisional 0.2%, exactly in line with forecast, and core inflation in the euro zone was a tick higher than expected at 0.9%. The numbers gave investors no reason to push the euro around. They were similarly uninspired by a five-point jump in the Chicago purchasing managers' index from 49.4 to 54.7, perhaps because it was closely followed by a lower-than-expected 93.1 reading for the University of Michigan's index of consumer confidence.
The Norwegian krone was Friday's second-biggest faller. It was hampered by unemployment rising from 2.8% to 3.1% and by falling oil prices.
The global round of manufacturing sector PMIs got off to a shaky start. Australia's 50.4 looked alright but the three from China told a confusing story at 50.0, 53.9 and 47.8 and Japan was a couple of ticks lower on the month at 51.2.
In Europe the lamest duck is likely to be France, as usual. The manufacturing sector there is expected to have shrunk slightly in July, as it has in 13 of the last 14 months. Britain's figure is forecast to be 51.5 and is likely to be beaten by Euroland and most of its components parts , though not by Switzerland.
Tonight brings the Reserve Bank of Australia's monetary policy statement. Most analysts expect the central bank to keep its Cash Rate benchmark steady at 2.0%. There is minimal chance of an increase but there is an outside chance that the RBA could deliver its second cut of the year.