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Daily brief -Tuesday 14 February 2017

By Daily Market Brief - Tue 14th Feb 2017

FX is like a box of chocolates

Roses are red, magnolia's bland: the Kiwi is down and the winner's the rand

Investors had no idea where they should be going on Monday. They didn't care much for the euro and they were none too sure about the US dollar either but they had no strong opinion on the matter. And there were no economic statistics to help them decide.

That lack of data left the FX market with no coherent theme. Investors did not retreat to the safe-havens but neither did they particularly pursue high higher yields and risk. The day's strongest and weakest performers - the South African rand and the New Zealand dollar - were both commodity-oriented currencies. Another one, the Canadian dollar, shared second position with the safe-haven Japanese yen and the British pound.

Investors were more relaxed about the US dollar as a result of Donald Trump's distribution of olive branches to the leaders of China and Japan at the end of last week. That spirit of peace and love was extended to Canada's Justin Trudeau when he visited the White House yesterday.

Roses are red, chestnuts are hairy: Brussels now reckons that Brexit's less scary

The EC's latest assessment is that Britain's vote to leave the EU has not, of itself, done the expected damage to the UK economy. A consequent upgrade to the EU's growth forecast, released yesterday, was positive for the pound.

Although there is still considerable doubt that the fact of Brexit will be as benign to the UK economy as its anticipation, investors seemed yesterday to be content to live in the here-and-now. The pound strengthened by an average of 0.2% and picked up half a cent each against the US dollar, the euro and the Swiss franc.

Overnight the Aussie recovered half a cent after a bounce in Australian business confidence. It is down by half a cent on the day.

Roses are red, violets are blue: inflation is up and it's coming for you

China set the tone for today with a pick-up in inflation from 2.1% to 2.5%. German inflation was steady at 1.9% in January. There are more inflation data later on from Switzerland and the UK, followed by €Z gross domestic product. The Federal Reserve chairperson will be speaking this afternoon.

Consumer prices in Switzerland should have gone up in the year to January but not by much: 0.3% is the consensus among analysts. Sterling's weakness should mean a far punchier number from the UK. The forecast there is 1.9%, even though prices probably fell in January. A higher number would presumably be positive for sterling.

This morning German growth came in below forecast at a provisional 0.4% for the fourth quarter. The prediction for pan-Euroland is pencilled in at 0.5%, which would still leave the euro zone lagging behind Britain's 0.6% expansion. When Janet Yellen goes to Capitol Hill today she will inevitably have to talk about monetary policy and interest rates.

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