Brussels again

Equities good, currency bad
Dutch engineers have created a hi-tech anglers' aid; a remotely-controlled drone fitted with a camera and a little winch that lowers the baited hook into the water. They hope it will inject a bit of fun and excitement into an otherwise tedious exercise. Euroland finance ministers are clamouring to buy.

They will be on the plane to Brussels again this afternoon for another in the interminable round of emergency meetings about Greece. But at least this time there is more than a glimmer of hope that an agreement is within reach. To an extent, investors are pleased with the situation. European share prices moved higher on Tuesday for a fourth successive day.

However, that satisfaction does not extend to the euro itself, which was the worst-performing major currency for the second day this week. It lost nearly a cent to sterling and the US dollar. After a good run at the end of May and in early June the euro has fallen back to its level a month ago and is down by exactly 10% - just about 13 cents - from its position at the turn of the year.

Ecostats largely ignored
Tuesday's economic data from Europe all exceeded investors' expectations while those from the United States were mostly disappointing. The contrast was completely ignored by investors, who took the dollar a third of a cent higher on the day.

Every one of the provisional purchasing managers' index readings from Euroland was above 50. The -0.6% monthly fall in Italian industrial orders didn’t look too clever but it was offset by a 5.4% increase in orders and a 0.7% rise in retail sales. The three pan-Euroland PMIs (manufacturing, services and composite) came in at 52.5, 54.4 and 54.1 respectively. It was the best composite reading in four years.

A pickup in the pace of US new home sales did little to distract from a -1.8% fall in American durable goods orders. The decline was three times as big as forecast and was accompanied by a one-point shortfall in the provisional manufacturing PMI which, at 53.4, was the lowest reading since November 2013.

Don't mention Greece
Gross domestic product and business confidence are the main statistics on today's agenda. France opened the reckoning with confirmation that its economy expanded by 0.6% in the first quarter.

Granted, that expansion accounted for most of the 0.8% growth achieved by France in the 12 months to March but, as always with ecostats, the most recent data are the most relevant. Those figures will be an embarrassment to the States if, as expected, the US GDP data show that the US economy did indeed shrink fractionally in Q1.

The other data on today's list relate to German business confidence, Italian wages and UK mortgage approvals. It will not be until eight o'clock this evening that the Eurogroup gathers in Brussels. There will therefore be nothing to say about Greece until after that. Ah, if only…