Central bankers on the prowl
RBA and BoJ
Researchers working in Guinea have discovered that chimps enjoy alcohol. A team of behavioural ecologists from Oxford filmed them drinking naturally-fermented sap from palm trees, after which they started arguing, falling off trees and going to sleep. In the scientists' opinion they were drunk, as were early sellers of the yen today.
Central bankers were strutting their stuff this morning, with the Reserve Bank of Australia and the Bank of Japan governors both getting in on the action. The RBA's Glenn Stevens was first up, telling the Economic Society of Australia that "we remain open to the possibility of further policy easing". His comment sent the Aussie a cent lower. A couple of hours later the BoJ's Haruhiko Kuroda told a parliamentary committee that "the yen is already very weak" and "further declines… are not likely to happen".
The effect of the double-whammy on the AUD/JPY exchange rate was to send it one yen lower. In the broader picture the Japanese currency is up by one and a half yen against sterling on the day and the Australian dollar is down by less than a cent: Kuroda San's yen-positive sentiment is seen to carry more weight than Mr Stevens's rate cut threat, given the RBA's reluctance to stoke soaring house prices in Sydney with even lower interest rates.
With his latest epistle to Brussels the Greek prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, has set the cat among the pigeons again. Having warned yesterday that his country's departure from the euro would trigger the collapse of the single currency his latest missive puts today's meeting with the troika in jeopardy.
Officially, Mr Tsipras is still scheduled to meet the German chancellor and the French president in Brussels. However, the two will be reluctant to waste their time if there is nothing new to talk about. Reuters quotes "one EU official" as saying "if there is no movement there is no meeting".
After a fortnight of relative optimism about an agreement investors lost some confidence in it yesterday. The euro was the second weakest performer ahead of the Swiss franc. Sterling had a fairly neutral day, strengthening fractionally on average.
The important economic statistics for sterling today will be those for UK manufacturing and industrial production in April. The potentially more important event will the Bank of England governor's speech at the Lord Mayor of London's banquet this evening.
The pound will be sensitive to the UK production figures that come out at half past nine and would be hurt by any negative readings. There are no important data from Euroland or North America on the agenda.
A year ago Mark Carney set sterling alight with his Mansion House observation that a rate increase "could happen sooner than markets currently expect". He is unlikely to be quite that incendiary this evening but investors will be hanging on his every word for some hint of what to expect and when.