And so it begins

Alternative facts

The dollar optimism that preceded Donald Trump's arrival at the White House was not in evidence on Friday or this morning. Perhaps that was because the most important task on the new president's agenda appeared to be to exaggerate the number of people attending his inauguration. 

It must be something along those lines because Mr Trump's protectionist "America first" angle is arguably positive for the dollar, as are some of his other policies such as tax cuts and infrastructure spending.  Alternatively, investors could be asking themselves how long it might take the president to translate his ideas from the back of a cigarette packet into legislation. Already there is a suggestion that any trade deal with post-Brexit Britain would be unlikely to be in place before the end of his four-year term.

Since Friday morning the dollar has fallen across the board, losing three quarters of a cent each to sterling and the euro. Compared with its levels on election day in November it is three cents firmer against the euro and a fifth of a cent lower against the pound.

Pugnacious pound

Despite a disappointing set of UK retail sales figures the pound is a touch higher, on average, than Friday's opening levels. It is unchanged against the euro and the Swiss franc and down by one Japanese yen against the class leader.

Not even the merest glint of light was to be found among the retail sales data for December. Sales were down by -1.9% on the month and November's feeble increase was downwardly revised to -0.1%. Analysts are at a loss to explain the fall, other than to speculate that consumers had brought forward their Christmas purchases to Black Friday in November.

The Canadian retail sales data later in the day were not very impressive either, rising by just 0.2% on the month. On top of that, Canadian inflation also came in below forecast at 1.5%. The Bank of Canada's own "core" measure was a tick higher at 1.6%.

Back to Brexit

The focus of investors will turn this week from Trumpton to Westminster. Tomorrow at 0930h the Supreme Court will deliver its judgment as to whether or not parliament must approve the activation of Article 50, the process of leaving the EU. On Friday the prime minister visits the new US president.

The word on the street is that the Supreme Court will rule in favour of the plaintiffs and that there will have to be a vote on Article 50. Recent experience suggests that would be positive for the pound, in that it would increase the (exceedingly slim) chance of Britain remaining within the EU.

In the meantime there are few ecostats to occupy investors. Today's are limited to Canadian wholesale sales and Euroland consumer confidence: tomorrow's early releases will be the provisional purchasing managers' indices from Japan and Euroland. The European Central Bank president will be speaking to a private audience in Italy at lunchtime.