Days to do


The Swedish krona is normally quite a reserved currency. It may come as a surprise, then, to see that it was Wednesday's leader by quite a margin. The krone strengthened by 1.5% after the Riksbank prolonged its quantitative easing for another six months, albeit on a reduced scale.

When the European Central Bank made a similar move two weeks ago the euro weakened because there was no sign of an end to the programme. When Sweden's central bank acted yesterday there was just such a sign. Governor Stefan Ingves had to use his casting vote to carry the decision. The inference is that when the committee has the same discussion in six months' time it could well decide to bring the asset purchase programme to a halt.

Yesterday's rally put the krona in the top slot for the week with a net gain of 2.1%. Rather less impressive is the fact that the rise amounts to almost a quarter of its rise in the year to date. From the beginning of January the krona sits in penultimate position ahead of the out-and-out loser, sterling, which has weakened by an average of -16.5% against the other dozen most actively-traded currencies.

Waning appetite

It was the Commonwealth dollars that brought up the rear. The three laggards were the Loonie, the Aussie and the Kiwi. They were not big moves though: the Canadian dollar in last place was down by just half a cent. In second place behind the krona the euro managed a half-cent gain.

Investors showed little appetite for anything, including the pound. Sterling had third losing day, falling by an average of -0.2%, the only saving grace being that it avoided a hat trick of wooden spoons. In the States the Dow Jones index of 30 "industrial" stocks (they are not all industrial in the traditional sense: the list includes American Express and Disney) spent a second day knocking on the door of a record high above 20,000, but to no avail.

Among the few economic data Britain's public sector net borrowing was more than expected in November, as were US existing home sales. Euroland consumer confidence also exceded forecast at -5.1.

Winding down

There is little on today's agenda to tempt investors away from their pipes and slippers. Their inclination will be to maintain a low profile and watch festive cat videos, an attitude that will be in even greater evidence tomorrow.

Figures released overnight put New Zealand's economic growth at 1.1% in the third quarter. Although it beat the forecast 0.9% expansion the improvement was cancelled out by a downgrade of the Q2 figure from 0.9% to 0.7%.

The two important ecostats this afternoon are for US durable goods orders and Canadian consumer prices. Inflation in Canada ought not to be contentious: an incremental slowdown from 1.5% to 1.4% is pencilled in. The unpredictable US durable goods orders number could conceivably make waves if only because of the seasonally thin market.