Something phenomenal this way comes
Investors really had it in for sterling at the end of last week. In London, at least, the number one item on their to-do list for Friday was marking down the pound. Sterling began heading lower well before the UK retail sales data provided a concrete excuse for selling it.
There was no good way of viewing the retail figures. Overall sales were down by -0.3% in January after a downwardly-revised -2.1% decline the previous month. Ignoring food and energy those numbers became -0.2% and -2.2%. The consensus among analysts - who had predicted increased sales - was that consumers were being put off by higher prices. But that might not be the case: The Guardian reported on Saturday that demand for organic food, which is typically more expensive than the inorganic kind, "is at its highest for more than a decade".
Such had been the early selling that the pound bottomed out within half an hour of the retail sales numbers' release. It proceeded to recover some of the ground lost to other European currencies, opening this morning only a dozen ticks lower against the euro and the franc. That still left it sharing last place with the rand and the Norwegian krone and nursing a net average loss of -0.3%.
Nothing to report
With UK retail sales out of the way there was nothing left on Friday's agenda to excite investors. Having found their appropriate levels by eleven o'clock, currencies pottered along into the weekend without moving far.
A slowdown in Swedish inflation from 1.7% to 1.4% did the krona no favours and it led the pound by only the slimmest of margins. Euroland construction output declined by -0.2% in December.
The US president was uncharacteristically quiet, perhaps in an effort not to overshadow his vice president's appearance at a security conference in Munich. There was curiosity on Saturday, however, when he told followers about a incident in Sweden that never took place.
It is eleven days since Donald Trump promised a "phenomenal" announcement about tax in the following couple of weeks. That means it could come anytime now, so investors will probably be inclined to keep their power dry this week until they find out what is involved.
Data from Japan this morning showed imports rising far more swiftly than exports, resulting in a trade deficit for January that was wider than expected. Rightmove's index of UK residential property asking prices showed them rising 2.0% in January for a year-on-year increase of 2.3%. German producer prices jumped 0.7% in January, leaving them 2.4% higher on the year.
Apart from the CBI's Industrial Trends Survey, Canadian wholesale sales and €Z consumer confidence that's the lot for today. The President's Day holiday in the United States should make for a quiet market this afternoon, leaving investors to ponder what phenomenon Mr Trump might be about to unleash on the US and if it will have any protectionist implications.