And another

OPEC bounce

Western governments typically come down hard on groups attempting to fix market prices. They make an exception, however, when it comes to oil, acquiescing in OPEC's occasional efforts to force it higher. OPEC is close to agreeing just such a fix with oil 10% more expensive on the day. 

In concert with non-OPEC Russia the oil exporters plan to reduce output by about 4%. The prospect of that reduction took oil prices up to levels they last saw a month ago and prompted rethinks about interest and exchange rates. The outcomes were mostly understandable. Norway's krone was the day's top performer and Canada's dollar took second place, adding a third of a US cent: both countries are oil exporters.

Less easy to justify is the way sterling responded. It shared second place with the Loonie, adding half a US cent and three quarters of a euro cent. On average the pound is 0.8% higher on the day against the other dozen most actively-traded currencies. There was a sensation that at least some of the upward pressure was the result of stale bears buying back short positions for the end of the month. 

US jobs

ADP's Employment Change figure counts the number of jobs added or subtracted from the company's corporate payroll management services every month. Although it is not directly comparable to the official employment data it is seen as a good indicator. In November it showed 216k new workers had been added.

The number was bigger than expected, reassuring investors that Friday's nonfarm payrolls number would be sufficiently strong enough not to get in the way of a rate increase by the Federal Reserve next week. The dollar picked up a fifth of a cent on the day against the euro, putting it three and a half cents higher on the month. 

Canadian gross domestic product expanded by an annualised 3.5% in the third quarter, confirming that the slowdown in Q2 was an aberration. The news did not do a whole lot for the Loonie.

Europe votes

On Sunday Austrians and Italians will go to the polls. In Austria voters will have to choose between the two finalists in the presidential knock-out competition; one a green, the other from the far-right Freedom Party. The choice in Italy is in the form of a referendum on Prime Minister Matteo Renzi's constitutional reforms. 

Both results could be unnerving for investors. Austria's far-right candidate, Norbert Hofer has a history of toying with withdrawal from the EU and Sr. Renzi has said he would resign were the referendum to reject his plans. The opinion polls put Herr Hofer in the lead and suggest Italy will vote No. 

The parallels with Brexit and Trump are hard to avoid. Two anti-establishment votes in Euroland would be unhelpful to the euro. Although neither would mean an instant change of direction the risk would be that the results could further embolden extremist parties elsewhere in Europe, not least Marine Le Pen's Front National.