Sterling weakens

The media have picked up on the Royal Mint's revelation two months ago that its commemorative coins offer poor value for money. Not only are shops not obliged to accept the £50 coin, its one troy ounce of silver is worth just £11. A lose/lose investment then, as was sterling yesterday.

Sterling's average loss on the day was -1.2% - call it two yen or two Canadian cents - and its smallest was the cent-and-a-quarter it lost to the Swiss franc. It was a comprehensively bad day for sterling despite UK inflation coming in on target at 0.3%. 

Mostly calm

Apart from Sterling, the financial markets were surprisingly unaffected by the Brussles attacks yesterday. Initial declines in equity prices were mostly reversed, gold was lower on the day and there was no particular rush for the safe-haven yen or franc.

The day's top-performers were the US and Australian dollars, both of which strengthened by 1.4% (two US cents, two and three quarter Australian cents). Close behind them were the yen, the Loonie and the Northern Scandinavian crowns. The euro took seventh place with a cent-and-a-quarter gain against sterling, although it did rise against the forint after the Hungarian National Bank joined the sub-zeros with a -0.05% deposit rate.

A respectable trio of provisional purchasing managers' index readings from the €Z either met or beat expectations and all three reading were higher on the month. UK public sector borrowing was slightly higher than expected in February but counted for little in the greater scheme of sterling's retreat.

No distractions

With no UK ecostats on today's list sterling will have the opportunity to regain strength. It would be a surprise if investors decided to trash it for a second consecutive day. That said, there will be little to distract them if they fancy another go.

Not only are there no UK data on the agenda, there are few from anywhere else. The single offering from Euroland is the easily-missed Italian wage inflation. In Zürich the Swiss National Bank presents its Quarterly Bulletin and after lunch the US Census Bureau reports on new home sales, which are expected to have rebounded in February.