31 May 2013
Currency exchange rate: 1GBP = 1.16 euros
On the week the euro is unchanged against sterling and down by one US cent. Compared with the end of April it is a cent and a half firmer against the pound and half a cent weaker against the dollar. In the year to date the euro has gained five and a half cents against sterling and lost a cent and a half to the dollar.
For the FX market as a whole it was a messy four-day week with currencies heading off on apparently random trajectories, some of which were subject to equally unpredictable reversal. Neither the euro nor the pound was at the centre of investors’ attention: they were far more interested in the on-off, will-they-won’t-they debate about the future course of quantitative easing in America and Japan. Investors were – are – perplexed at the self-contradictory comments emanating from the Federal Reserve and, particularly, the Bank of Japan. That being the case, and with no fresh crises arising in Euroland, the European currencies were off the radar for most investors.
Typically for the end of a month the supply of economic statistics was sparse and mostly low-key. Retail sales in Spain, Germany and France all fell in April. Unemployment was higher in Germany, Italy and Euroland. Inflation accelerated in Germany, Spain and the euro zone. Consumer and business confidence saw a broad improvement but the numbers from Italy, Portugal and the euro zone as a whole all still indicated pessimism not optimism. Spain’s economy contracted by -0.5% on the first quarter, in line with expectations.
The UK data did not, therefore, have much to compete with, which was just as well because the British statisticians were running short of ammunition too. The CBI reported a fall in retail sales. Nationwide’s house price index was higher on the week and the month. Consumer confidence improved to a less negative level. The number of mortgage approvals rose in April but not by as much as expected.
Next week brings the monthly global purchasing managers’ index shoot-out, which is likely to show slowing activity in Euroland and modest growth in Britain. It also brings monetary policy decisions from the Bank of England and the European Central Bank. Whilst the BoE is not expected to make any change to its 0.5% Bank Rate or its halted Asset Purchase Programme, the ECB’s decision is less predictable. A surprise would not be a surprise.
For more information on currency exchange in France click here.