The eye of the storm?

Seventy years ago when Abraham Maslow set out his "hierarchy of needs", the three greatest necessities were food, shelter and safety. The Gulf Times reports that a recent survey still put food at the top of the list but today's number two priority is WiFi.

Maybe people need it in order to keep real-time tabs on the Brexit opinion polls and betting prices. At the last count bookies had increased the odds against Britain Leaving the EU to 3/1 while Remaining was the odds-on favourite in this two-horse race at 1/4. Having sent sterling sharply higher at the beginning of referendum week investors backed off the gas, allowing the pound to remain fairly comfortably within the upper reaches of its daily range.

Sterling was beaten on the day by the South African rand, which gained the greatest advantage as Brexit fears faded slightly. It strengthened by 1.1% against the pound. In second place, a nanotick ahead of sterling, was the Japanese yen. The Australian dollar was unchanged against the pound and the Canadian dollar was a whisker behind.

The biggest losers

As expected, the Nigerian naira took the biggest thumping on Monday after it was freed from its unrealistic peg to the US dollar. The Indian rupee took the penultimate slot while the weakest performers among the major currencies were the euro and the Swiss franc.

The naira was marked down by a fifth at the beginning of the day and it ended the day with a loss of about -30% against its US dollar benchmark. India's rupee failed to recover from the beating it took after the news of the Bank of India governor's impending departure. It was down by -1% on the day. The euro was not far ahead of the rupee, with a one-cent loss to sterling, and the franc was only narrowly ahead of it.

This morning the Reserve Bank of Australia published the minutes of its June policy meeting. The final line read: "leaving the stance of monetary policy unchanged at this meeting would be consistent with sustainable growth in the economy and inflation returning to target over time. "Investors couldn't decide whether" at this meeting" meant a future rate cut was more or less likely so they left the Aussie alone.

Mario and Janet

This afternoon Federal Reserve chairperson Janet Yellen will make the first of two appearances on Capitol Hill, telling Congress about the economy. Shortly before that her opposite number at the ECB will be doing a similar job in Brussels.

The speeches, together with the Qs&As that follow, are the most important events on today's schedule. It will be interesting to hear how the two central bankers handle the subject of Brexit risk. Will they admit to having prepared contingency plans or are they spinning their prayer wheels in the hope of business as usual?

Today's ecostats cover, inter alia, Switzerland's trade balance, UK public sector net borrowing and manufacturers' order books.