Carney looms

Ease springs

Oxfam reports that the wealthiest 62 people have as much money as the poorest 3.6bn. Were they to share it out, they could give everybody on the planet £166 each. To do that, of course, they would have to sell their assets, causing a stock market rout. 

They evidently were not doing that on Monday. Whilst Western stock markets were microscopically lower (London -0.4%, Frankfurt -0.3%), those in the East were under minimal pressure, as were oil and the "risky" currencies. It was by no means a widespread embracement of risk but investors were relieved to see the Chinese authorities propping up share prices in Shanghai and they were able to dispel some of the nervousness that had built up in the first two weeks of the year. 

Sterling looked much steadier too, losing ground only to the Canadian dollar. It was roughly steady against the euro, the Swedish krona, the South African rand and the US, NZ and Australian dollars. The pound added nearly one yen against the "safe" Japanese currency and strengthened by more than 1% against the day's weakest performer, the Norwegian krone.

China still growing

Data released this morning showed China's economy expanding by 6.8% in 2015 and by 1.6% in the fourth quarter. Investors were initially unimpressed by that and by the other figures that accompanied the GDP number, but they eventually seemed to come to the conclusion that things were really not so bad after all.

Growth of 1.6% in gross domestic product was not at all poor by global standards but it was less than analysts had predicted and the slowest in 25 years. The other data fell short of forecast too: retail sales increased by an annual 11.1% rather than 11.3%; industrial production growth slowed from 6.2% to 5.9% a year; urban investment was up by an annual 10%, half the annual increases seen a couple of years ago.

The first reaction of investors to the Chinese data was to buy the yen, the euro and the US dollar but there was no follow-through. By the time London opened all three had fallen back beyond the levels that had preceded the ecostats from Beijing.  

Inflation and the People's Palace

Having spent Monday twiddling their thumbs, the data junkies have several key ecostats to ponder over the next 24 hours, including inflation-related figures from Germany, Switzerland, Britain, Euroland and New Zealand. The Bank of England governor will be speaking at midday.

Headline inflation rates for the UK and the €Z are both pencilled in at 0.2%. At that level neither should have any great impact on the pound or the euro. The Kiwi will be more sensitive to the NZ data, especially if a low print appears to leave scope for further rate cuts.

Mark Carney will take to the podium in Queen Mary University's People's Palace (honest) at midday. No title has been announced but anything smacking of interest rate guidance would affect the pound.