GBP still down
After a quiet day yesterday when I was at pains to find something to write about, today’s raft of UK data releases provides me with a little more material to work with. At 9.30 the latest Q4 GDP figures were realeased. This showed a conttraction of 0.5% in the last quarter of 2010 – fractionally better than expected. Total business investment is also released today and is expected to have declined in the fourth quarter by 2.5%, with the Chancellor hoping this trend doesn’t continue as he looks to the private sector to drive UK growth. Mortgage approval data is another key release today and is definitely worth keeping an eye out for as it provides us with further insight into the health of the housing sector.
In the euro zone there was also an important data announcement this morning with German Consumer Confidence easing to 5.9% from 6% last month. The German people also appear to be losing confidence in their leader, Chancellor Angela Merkel, with her party losing ground in the weekend’s state elections. Now I know being a politician isn’t the most popular of occupations, but when you consider the German economy is booming you would expect Mrs Merkel to win a little praise, but this has not been the case. It would appear that the Germans’ widespread frustration at having to fund bailouts for Greece, Ireland and most likely Portugal has eroded her support. This result does not bode well for Ireland who is currently trying to renegotiate the terms of their recent bailout – with an even less sympathetic stance from the German government now expected.
Despite the current uncertainty with Portugal, the pound has continued its downward trend against the euro with it now trading at 1.1330 – the lowest since mid October. The market appears satisfied for now that even if Portugal needed financial support the European Financial Stability Fund would easily be large enough to accommodate them – although if Spain needed support this may well not to be the case. The pound did perform a little better against the dollar with it making back some of lost ground at 1.6020, but still a long way short from its 1.6400 highs last week. Watch out for the US consumer confidence figures at 15.00 GMT with stronger than expected figures having the potential to drag GBP/USD under the 1.600 level.