Stimulus needed

There is disgruntlement in the armed forces that the MoD's latest summary of British military capability, Defence in Numbers, misrepresents obsolete equipment as being operational. Among others, it lists seven Provost training aircraft, last used 12 years ago, as well as seven warthogs and seven (but no bulls or bears).

That could explain why none were to be found around the FX market on Friday. The day's top performer, South Africa's rand, strengthened by 0.3% against sterling. The back markers were the Canadian and NZ dollars, which were down by -0.2%, equivalent to a quarter of a US cent. The greenback itself went up by that much and the Swiss franc added a dozen ticks. 

Sterling was on average steady against the other dozen most actively-traded currencies. It was exactly unchanged against the euro, the Japanese yen and the Australian dollar. Over the week the pound is flat or higher against all but the Kiwi and the rand. Its performance over the last month has been less impressive, falling against the lot of them with an average loss of -2.0%.

There was nothing among Friday's ecostats to impress or dismay investors. Consequently, they were neither dismayed nor impressed and left currency values pretty much alone. And this morning there was no agitation at figures that showed Chinese economic growth had slowed on an annual basis.

Having expanded by 7.0% in the year to end-June, China's economy grew by 6.9% in the year to September. However, quarterly growth accelerated from 1.7% to 1.8% between Q2 and Q3. The antipodean dollars even responded positively to the news, the Aussie picking up half a cent; investors had apparently suspected the figures might look worse. It helped that Chinese retail sales were up by a useful 10.9% on the year.

Among the data that didn't make much difference on Friday were Euroland's unchanged 0.2% inflation rate, a smaller-than-expected -0.2% decline in Canada's manufacturing shipments, an in-line -0.2% fall in US industrial production and a provisional five-point improvement in the Michigan index of consumer sentiment. The only UK statistic was last night's Rightmove house price index, which showed annual growth slowing from 6.4% to 5.6%.

…a tendency to do nothing or remain unchanged. Exchange rates on Friday did almost nothing and remained mostly unchanged because there was no external force to get them moving. Today's agenda is likely to mean more of the same.

It is hard to underestimate the number and importance of today's ecostats, now the Chinese GDP and retail sales numbers are out of the way. We have the German central bank's monthly report and America's NAHB Housing Market Index. A speech this afternoon by the Federal Reserve's Jeffrey Lacker and the minutes of the Reserve Bank of Australia's policy meeting, which come out tonight, represent the only realistic chance of stimulation.

Today's Canadian general election is something of a wild card. A change of government would be likely to affect the Loonie tomorrow.