Cultural differences
What does the Spanish Riding School have in common with playing Slovakian bagpipes and drinking Arabic coffee? All are on UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage list. Candidates for listing in the future include waiting for a Fed rate hike and doing whatever it takes to fight low Euroland inflation.

Both of those were going on yesterday, as they have for what feels like forever. In the euro zone the consumer price index put inflation at a provisional 0.1%. The figure was lower than forecast and entirely deserving of the European Central Bank Governing Council doing whatever it takes today. In the United States the Federal Reserve chairperson said once again that she was "looking forward" to taking interest rates higher.

It might have been reasonable to expect the euro to weaken against the US dollar as a result of those divergent rate outlooks. However, so deeply are they ingrained in the culture that investors no longer see them as remarkable. The dollar did indeed strengthen against the euro but only to the tune of quarter of a cent.

What was that for?
For a second successive day, sterling began to head lower as London opened. It went on to lose ground against just about everything, falling by an average of -1.1% against the other dozen most actively-traded currencies. 

There were no new UK data to justify the pound's mistreatment. Yes, the construction sector purchasing managers' index was softer than expected, at a seven-month low of 55.3, but sterling' decline was already underway when the figure came out. The sensation was more that somebody was intent on pushing the pound down through the psychological barrier at $1.50.

Paradoxically, the pound rallied against the US dollar after Janet Yellen made her comments about higher US interest rates. It looked as though everyone had been buying dollars in anticipation of her saying just such a thing and that they took their profits when she actually came out with it.

Today brings the second major round of PMIs, this time for the services sector. It also brings another appearance by the Fed chairperson Janet Yellen and the figures for Euroland retail sales in October. Overshadowing those are the ECB rate announcement at 12:45 and Mario Draghi's press conference 45 minutes later.

Great things are expected of the EBC this afternoon. A cut in the bank's deposit rate is on the cards, even though it is already negative at -0.2%. Investors also expect the asset purchase programme to be increased and extended beyond the €60bn per month which is scheduled to end next September.

Sig. Draghi and his team are doubtless hoping that their actions will send the euro lower this afternoon: a weaker currency would help inflation towards its target by making imports more expensive. In the past, similar announcements have achieved just that result. The risk, though, is that the ECB delivers less than investors are expecting. In that case, a euro rebound would be entirely possible.