The first debate

Or argument?

The overnight movement of the Mexican peso against the dollar shows who investors thought won the first US presidential debate. The peso strengthened by 2% (albeit from a record low) as it dawned on them that Mexico might not have to pay for that big beautiful wall after all.

By many accounts Hillary Clinton got the better of Donald Trump in the 90-minute debate and it is easy enough to see why the prospect of a Clinton presidency is preferable to the alternative for Mexico. There was also an indication of the wider implications for the dollar depending on who becomes US chief executive. As the peso moved higher it was accompanied by the commodity currencies, the Northern Scandinavian crowns and, to a much lesser extent, sterling. The safe-haven euro, Swiss franc and yen lost ground.

So, for now, it's all down to risk. Investors apparently see Ms Clinton as a safe pair of hands or, at least, a known quantity: They have no fixed reference point against which to judge Mr Trump. The dollar is a dozen ticks higher on the day against sterling, which shared last place with the Canadian dollar. 

Yo-yo pound

Sterling's day was a hit-and-miss affair: the pound tended lower during the London morning before recovering after lunch. Investors are still blowing hot and cold about Britain's departure from the EU and the government's silence on the matter feeds their nervousness.

The only UK economic statistic was the BBA figure for mortgage approvals in August. It was within 700 of the June number at 37k and therefore uncontroversial. IFO's barometers of German business confidence were stronger than expected, with the forward-looking Expectations measure rising four and a half points to 104.5. Italian retail sales did not look so clever: July's -0.3% decline cancelled out the previous month's increase.  The -7.6% monthly fall in US new home sales was not as bad as forecast.

Of the half dozen central bankers on parade the only one with anything to say about sterling was the European Central Bank's Mario Draghi. He told the European Parliament that Britain should be given no special favours when it comes to Brexit.

Retail sales

It will be another slow day for ecostats, of which only one will have anything to do with the pound. The Federal Reserve vice chairman will be speaking this afternoon but investors already know his opinion on interest rates.

This morning it's sales: Swedish retail sales, followed by Italian industrial sales and then the CBI's Distributive Trade Survey of British shopping activity. Data from the United States this afternoon cover house prices, crude oil stocks, manufacturing activity in the Richmond Fed region, a couple of provisional purchasing managers' indices and the Conference Board's measure of consumer confidence. The confidence figure is the most important.

That will leave time, then, to watch a rerun of the presidential debate. It would be an interesting way to kill an hour and a half.