Political turbulence leaves currency markets directionless

Politics is not a predictable or reliable science, and on both sides of the Atlantic we saw it in action in the last 24 hours as the big themes of 2019 continue to play out in glorious technicolour.

Political turbulence leaves currency markets directionless

Politics is not a predictable or reliable science, and on both sides of the Atlantic we saw it in action in the last 24 hours as the big themes of 2019 continue to play out in glorious technicolour.

In the UK prime minister Theresa May suffered yet another Commons defeat over her plans for Brexit, which is raising a big question mark over her government and any ability it might have to deliver a Brexit that is going to benefit the UK economy.

The GBP currently holds the record for the worst performing G10 currency over the last five trading days, although it is holding its ground against the Euro this morning. While traders are selling sterling in the run up to 29 March, they are also selling the Euro, causing some range bound behaviour for the GBP/EUR in the 1.12-1.16 area. There looks to be an increasing probability of a sideways slide for the GBP/EUR until some kind of fundamental agreement is reached, or the UK really does crash out of the EU.

Trump to sign off on budget, seeks emergency powers for more cash

In the US President Trump, that other great unpredictable factor, is due to sign off on a spending bill agreed with Congress, hopefully fending off the prospect of another government shutdown. The president seems to be pondering the possibility of using national emergency funding to pay for his promised wall with Mexico, as right now the best he can expect with the resources available to him is a fence of some description.

China trade woes weigh on Asian markets

But US and Asian markets seem more concerned about the fall out from the China trade dispute. China's CSI 300 fell 1.9% overnight and the Hang Seng was also down 2%. Consumer prices in China are growing at their slowest pace in more than a year, and this has economists spooked, as a slowing China has the scope to nudge the rest of the global economy into recession. Now, even if there is a trade deal with the US, it is an open question whether this will be enough to head off a recession.

Standard Life Aberdeen leads FTSE lower

The FTSE opened up marginally higher this morning although Standard Life Aberdeen took a 5% hit in very early trading. The fund manager recently announced its plans to sell its headquarters in Edinburgh, but more significantly substantial shareholder Mitsubishi UFJ Trust is seeking to unwind £371 million in the fund manager's stock. Book runner Morgan Stanley reported that appetite for the shares seems high, but this has not stopped the stock price from shedding some value this morning. The shares had staged something of a rally in November but are heading back towards their 52 week low.

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