Lethargy lures

Milk? Oh.
In Back to the Future Marty McFly drove his Irish car from 1985 to today. He found the Bank Rate 11 1/2 percentage points lower at 0.5%. Sterling was stronger by 18% against the US dollar and down by -29% against the Deutschemark (/euro). Yesterday's moves were more modest.

Sterling's performance was also more modest compared with Monday's class-leading achievements. It gave up a third of a US cent and fell by a similar proportion, on average, against the other dozen most actively-traded currencies. Losses elsewhere included two thirds of a euro cent and half a Swiss cent. The Canadian dollar had the best run after investors decided that a decisive general election win for the Liberals was a better outcome than a hung parliament.

It was the NZ dollar that got the rough end of the stick. After rising four times on the trot the fortnightly Global Dairy Trade index unexpectedly fell by -3.1%. Given the surprise, and the importance of milk production to the NZ economy, investors marked down the Kiwi by an instant cent. The NZ dollar put in the day's worst performance, eventually falling by a cent and a half.

Central bankers
None of the central bankers who spoke publicly added anything to the debate about the timing of anticipated interest rate increases in Britain and the States. Nor did the few economic statistics - the GDT index excepted - bring anything new to the table.

US housing starts slightly exceeded expectations while building permits fell a little short. Canadian wholesale sales, which fell by -0.1% for a second month, counted for little alongside the day's political developments. The yen was sent lower overnight by Japanese trade figures, which showed exports rising by a measly 0.6% in the year to September and imports tumbling -11.1%, but it later recovered.

The Bank of England's Ian McCafferty did indeed push the need for higher interest rates. However, his call, at the very end of his speech, "not to leave the start date for lift off too late" was hardly a clarion call for action now. The Federal Reserve chairperson didn't even touch on economics or rates in her speech to the Labor Department. Her henchmen William Dudley and Jerome Powell followed her example.

And more central bankers
Speeches by central bankers have been more numerous than top-tier economic data in the last couple of days and that pattern continues today. Investors will be hearing from the Bank of Canada, the Bank of England, the Federal Reserve and the Reserve Bank of Australia.

After lunch the BoC governor will explain why his benchmark rate remains at 0.5%. This evening the BoE governor is expected to touch on Britain's relationship with the EU. Later, the Fed's Jerome Powell will have another chance to say nothing about rates and RBA assistant governor Malcolm Edey will talk about financial stability.

UK public sector borrowing is the only statistic of any note. It comes out at 09:30.