Politics everywhere

Euro concerns

"First and foremost, we are not currency manipulators. Second, our monetary policies reflect the diverse state of the [economic] cycle of the euro zone and the United States." Those were Mario Draghi's thoughts on the accusations from the White House last week. 

At his audience with the European Parliament's economic affairs committee the European Central Bank president said pretty much what might have been expected: The euro's value is the by-product of monetary policy, not its objective; The single currency is "irreversible"; Donald Trump's plan to scrap bank regulations is "very worrisome".

It was all good solid sensible stuff but not enough to keep the euro in the top half of the field. Investors were looking at the travails of French presidential candidate François Fillon and the slippage of Angela Merkel in the German opinion polls. They also had at least half an eye on Greece, where the festering perma-crisis threatens to bubble over again. So the euro lost half a cent on the day to sterling and a little more than that to the US dollar.

Eastern leaders

The leaders overnight were the Japanese yen and the NZ and Australian dollars. Each owed its success to a different factor. The yen rose by 0.9% against the pound. The Kiwi was close behind with a 0.8% gain while the Aussie was up by just 0.4%.

Investors in search of safety were happy enough with the Swiss franc, which was half a dozen ticks higher on the day, but they were less relaxed about the political landmines in Euroland. The Japanese currency was therefore the safe-haven-of-choice for most. It has strengthened by three yen against the US dollar since Mr Trump's inauguration, making it the top performer over that period.

In the antipodes the NZ dollar was first out of the traps when inflation expectations went up from 1.7% to 1.9%. An hour and a half later the Australian dollar followed it north after the Reserve Bank of Australia kept its benchmark interest rate unchanged at 1.5%. The tone of the RBA's statement was moderately optimistic.

Staying awake

Economic data were thin on the ground on Monday and that will again be the case today. Investors will be looking to the politicians in Washington, Paris, Berlin and London to keep them awake.

The only ecostat of any consequence during London's session yesterday was for Euroland investor confidence, It was a point lower on the month at 17.4, exactly as forecast. At midnight BRC members reported that retail sales in January were down by -0.6% on the same month last year, when they had been unusually strong. This morning Germany reported a -3.0% monthly decline in industrial production and France's trade deficit narrowed.

No other data are due from Europe except, perhaps, the Halifax house price index. There are Canadian figures for international trade and building permits as well as the Ivey purchasing mangers' index. The Deutsche Bundesbank president Jens Weidmann will be speaking this afternoon.