American data inconclusive
US jobs confuse
After two days off to commemorate the end of World War 2 the Chinese authorities got back to work this morning propping up the Shanghai stock market. Their efforts were not of much help to the commodity currencies though: most are softer compared with Friday morning's levels.
The NZ dollar has been worst-hit, falling by nearly three cents - 1.2% - while the Aussie is down by a cent against sterling. Some of that decline was the result of ongoing twitchiness about China and some of it was related to Friday's US employment report, which showed nonfarm payrolls increasing by 173k in August. The figure was well short of the expected 218k increase, although upward revisions to earlier months' numbers compensated for most of the 45k shortfall.
The data put investors in a quandary. Should they buy the US dollar because, overall, payrolls were in line with expectations? Should they sell it because jobs growth did, after all, slow in August? So they did both before deciding, in the end, that buying the Greenback was the right course of action. The US dollar was the day's best performer - just - strengthening by a dozen ticks against the euro and by half a cent against sterling.
Canadian jobs confuse
The Loonie could not keep up with the US dollar but it had a better day than the antipodeans, holding steady against sterling. Friday's Canadian employment data were mostly helpful and the broad-brush Ivey purchasing managers' index came in at a punchy 58.0.
The addition of 12k jobs in August looked particularly good compared to the forecast of 5k job losses. However unemployment, which was supposed to be steady at 6.8%, increased to 7.0%. Investors decided that the increase in unemployment could be explained away by a higher participation rate which is, by and large, positive for the economy and the currency.
Other than the North American employment data, the only other ecostats on Friday were for Swiss deflation (-1.4%), Swedish industrial production (down by an annual -1.9%) and Swedish manufacturing orders (up by 1.2% on the year). Overnight the Australian construction PMI came in at a healthy 53.8.
The US and Canadian Labor Day holidays mean no North American data today and no New York market this afternoon. There are vanishingly few ecostats from anywhere else either.
Earlier this morning Germany reported a 0.7% monthly rebound in industrial production. Switzerland revealed a further increase in its currency reserves (as the result of intervention to depress the franc). Yet to come are Norwegian manufacturing output and Euroland investors confidence. Oh, the excitement.
With nothing else to think about, investors might care to reflect on the opinion poll published over the weekend. In response to the question "Should Britain remain in the EU or leave the EU?" 51% wanted to leave while 49% preferred to remain (intriguingly, there were no don't-knows). The result will not be comforting to the pound's supporters.