Get set

Whatever
A survey by the Post Office finds that the advent of GPS navigation means less use of traditional road maps. Curiously, although 7m Britons have never used a map, 4.5m of those 7m claim somehow to be able to read one. There is similar optimism among German companies.

An IFO survey published yesterday found German firms more optimistic this month about future prospects than they had been before the revelation of the Volkswagen emissions scandal. The news was momentarily helpful to the euro but of no lasting benefit. Ahead of London's opening this morning the euro was just about unchanged on the day against the US dollar and the British pound.

It was a similar story with BBA mortgage approvals, which at 44.5k in September were a couple of thousand fewer than expected, and the CBI's Industrial Trends Survey, which found manufacturers' order books shrinking, on balance, for a sixth month. The figures were disappointing but not sufficiently so to hurt sterling.

Bothered
Investors were clearly not in a mood to pay overmuch attention to the economic data. They demonstrated it yesterday afternoon by shrugging off a fairly unpleasant US new home sales figure and again yesterday night by ignoring a wider-than-expected NZ trade deficit.

The -11.5% monthly decline in US new home sales was significantly worse than the forecast -0.4% drop and it did send the dollar half a cent lower over the following hour. However, by the end of the London session it had recovered most of that loss. A similar knee-jerk reaction by the Kiwi to the NZ trade deficit had almost been neutralised by the time Europe opened for business.

Monday's weakest performer was the Swiss franc. It gently faded by a cent before bouncing off a two-month low against the pound. The yen and the Norwegian krone shared a narrow lead, adding just 0.2% - half a yen. For all practical purposes the pound was unchanged against the other dozen most actively-traded currencies.

Q3 growth
After Monday's gentle opener the ecostat pace picks up today. The first stab at third quarter gross domestic product will probably show UK economic growth slowing slightly in the three months to September. US durable goods orders are expected to have fallen by -1.1% in September.

The safest prediction for durable goods orders is that the one thing they will not have done is fall by -1.1%. Forecasters almost never get this one right, hence the disproportionate impact on the dollar when the figure is printed. There will also be US data for house prices and consumer confidence as well as a couple more provisional purchasing manager' indices.

Having expanded by 0.7% in the second quarter of the year Britain's economy is expected to have achieved growth of 0.6% in the third. One of the main reasons for the slightly slower pace is the increased strength of sterling. Between mid-May and mid-August it went up by an average of 5.8%, making Britain less competitive.