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Daily brief - Monday 30 January 2017

By Daily Market Brief - Mon 30th Jan 2017

Nothing to see

Investors relaxed

The British prime minister's visits to the United States and Turkey and the US president's Muslim travel ban have made surprisingly little difference to exchange rates.  Compared with Friday morning the pound is just about unchanged against the dollar, the lira and the other dozen most actively-traded currencies. 

In the Far East this morning the first reaction to Mr Trump's travel ban was to favour the safe-haven yen, euro and franc and to shy away from supposedly risky currencies. However, there has been no follow-through.  Those safe-havens are the equivalent of a third of a euro cent higher on the day, hardly an overreaction to the latest in a string of executive orders from the White House.

Bringing up the rear - though not far behind - were the Canadian dollar and the South African rand.  Both lost -0.3%, half a Canadian cent.  The rand's specific problem was a story on Friday that President Zuma intends to sack ministers who want to see him replaced.  The Loonie did nothing wrong: it simply gave back some of its earlier gains, leaving it unchanged on the week.

GDP

Provisional figures on Thursday for fourth quarter growth indicated a 0.6% expansion of Britain's gross domestic product in the fourth quarter of 2016.  American GDP data the following day put growth at 0.5% (1.9% annualised).  The UK number was a tick higher than expected, the US one a tick lower.

Reactions to the data were muted.  Analysts saw America's shortfall as a technical effect of above-normal performance in the fourth quarter of 2015 and investors were reluctant to become too excited about Britain's Q4 reading being unchanged from Q3.  The US GDP figures coincided with the monthly change in durable goods orders, which also fell short of forecast with a -0.4% decline.  Any disappointment there was offset by the Michigan consumer sentiment index which came out shortly afterwards:  it was up by half a point at 98.5.

The only real surprise on Friday was Swedish retail sales.  As in Britain they were unexpectedly lower in December, falling by -2.9%.

Happy new year

New year celebrations took China out of the reckoning for the weekend and they will continue for the whole week.  There will be monetary policy decisions from Japan, Britain and the United States and Friday brings the ever-popular US employment report.

No change is expected from the Bank of Japan tomorrow or from the Bank of England on Thursday.  Analysts expect the Federal Reserve to remain on hold this Wednesday too, but there has to be an outside chance of a rate increase, given that the Fed has been talking up the prospect of two or three of them this year.

Today's ecostats began with a much-reduced NZ deficit and a fall in Japanese retail sales.  Spain reported provisional growth of 0.7% in Q4.  German inflation and US income and spending came later, along with US pending home sales.

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