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Daily brief -Tuesday 28 February 2017

By Daily Market Brief - Tue 28th Feb 2017

Trump alert

So close…

But for a quarter of a euro cent the British pound would this morning be celebrating a double hat-trick of comprehensive wins or losses in the daily major currency league table. It's recovery was further evidence that investors don't have the remotest idea where sterling should be going.

The prospect of a second Scottish independence referendum was apparently of greater concern to investors in the Far East than it was to their colleagues in Europe. After the early-morning sell-off - or at least the buyers' retreat - there was no real effort to follow it through. Yes, the pound did fall a little further as London opened but within half an hour or so commonsense set in. Any Indyref 2 would be unlikely to take place until the completion of Brexit and, even then, there is considerable doubt that its result would be any different from the one two and a half years ago.

There were no UK data to help with sterling's rehabilitation but, as we have learnt in the last week or so, sentiment can be a powerful driver whichever way it leads. The pound was unchanged on the day against the US dollar, the Swiss franc and the Norwegian krone: its biggest gains were one Canadian cent and half a Japanese yen. Its only loss was to the euro.

Even closer…

The observation here yesterday morning was that because US durable goods orders were forecast to have risen by 1.9% in January the actual figure would be anything but 1.9%. That comment was the closest to an own-goal in quite a while: orders were up by 1.8%.

The number was a good one even though it mostly comprised orders for aircraft and military equipment. Monday's other data showed steady or improved business and consumer confidence in Euroland and a fall in the number of US pending home sales.

Overnight New Zealand reported a wider trade deficit and figures from Japan showed declines for industrial production and retail sales. UK consumer confidence was just about unchanged at -6.

Dollar in the spotlight

There are gross domestic product figures today and tonight from France, Sweden and Australia. Otherwise it will be the United States that hogs the limelight with its own GDP numbers, personal income and spending, consumer confidence and house prices and a special appearance by Donald Trump.

At 0200h GMT tomorrow the US president will address a joint meeting of Congress. He is expected to put some flesh on the bones of his plans for taxation and infrastructure and will presumably expand on yesterday's pledge to spend an extra $54bn on defence. What he intends to do and how he proposes to pay for it will be of huge importance to the dollar, as well as to equity and bond prices.

With expectations already so high it is hard to imagine how Mr Trump could possibly over-deliver tonight. Disappointment is not guaranteed but movement in financial markets pretty much is.

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