Midnight cut-off for Greece

Sterling stumbles
The Chinese government has come up with a wizard wheeze to prevent equity prices falling.  Anyone holding more than 5% of a company's shares is forbidden to sell any. Don't snigger: the Shanghai Composite index is up by 5% on the day (but down by 28% on the month).

It is almost the opposite story for sterling. Over the last month the pound has strengthened by an average of 2.2% against the other dozen most actively-traded currencies, losing ground only to the Japanese yen. Over the last 24 hours it has fallen by an average of 0.7%, its only gains being trivial ones against the Norwegian krone and the South African rand. Sterling is down on the day by two thirds of a US cent and one and a quarter euro cents.

It would be convenient to blame sterling's downfall on Chancellor George Osborne's "austerity" budget speech and the slight mark-down of the OBR growth projections for the UK economy. However, the pound has been on the retreat since Tuesday morning. Mr Osborne's only contribution to its decline was to make the Monetary Policy Committee perhaps less eager to take interest rate higher.

Kiwi climbs
The New Zealand dollar was Wednesday's top performer. This was not entirely fair, because it was Australia that did much of the heavy lifting with a good set of employment data. Nevertheless, the Kiwi comfortably outpaced the Australian dollar.

Although figures this morning put Australian unemployment a tick higher on the month at 6.0% it was a lower result than the 6.1% predicted by analysts. Another 7k people were in work and there was a big 41k swing from part-tine to full-time employment. Helped by those numbers the Aussie strengthened by two and a quarter cents on the day but the Kiwi piggy-backed on the data to add nearly four cents.

The minutes of the Federal Reserve's policy meeting were not as hawkish as investors had hoped. They noted caution about developments in China and Greece and only one member of the Federal Open Market Committee saw any urgent need to take interest rates higher.

Bank of England and Greece
The theoretical highlight of today's agenda is the Monetary Policy Committee's announcement at midday. However, nobody expects any change to the 0.5% Bank Rate so the conversation will probably centre on Greece.

The government of Alexis Tsipras has until midnight to hand in to creditors its proposals for reforms and revenue-raising. Between then and Sunday they will be vetted in preparation for the EU summit in Brussels. Investors are still optimistic that Greece will soften its demands for debt relief and that euro zone leaders will take a less negative attitude to Athens, paving the way to an agreement.

Investors will probably have to make do with rumours and twitters at least until tomorrow. That should keep the euro out of the firing line and might even help it if the noises-off sound positive. Fingers crossed.