UK election debate yields no clear winner

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20 November 2019


Sterling edged lower against a broadly stronger US dollar on Wednesday morning, with last night’s UK election debate between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn not yielding a clear winner in either direction.

he debate itself was unsurprisingly dominated by the topic of Brexit and the NHS, although much of the talk after the airing was focused on a rebranding of the Tories twitter account, rather than anything said by either candidate. In the words of the BBC’s political editor Laura Kuennsberg, ‘neither man seem to have made a meaningful mistake. Nor did either of them appear to have a breakthrough moment.’ According to a snap poll by YouGov, Johnson was handed a fairly notional 51-49% victory.

As far as the actual opinion polls are concerned, however, the Conservative Party continue to streak ahead. The latest poll from Kantar released yesterday gave Johnson’s party a remarkable 18% advantage, the largest the polls have shown to date.

The rising probability of a Tory majority, which now stands at almost 70% according to some implied bookmaker odds should, we think, provide decent support for the pound during the rest of the week.

Trump tariff threat fuels risk-off mode

As mentioned, the dollar was broadly stronger this morning, with EUR/USD briefly edging back towards the 1.105 level at one stage. The greenback performed well against trade-exposed currencies, in particular, yesterday, after President Trump threatened to increase tariffs on Chinese imports, should the current trade negotiations fail.

Attention now turns to tonight’s FOMC meeting minutes. We expect the minutes to echo comments from Chair Powell last week that interest rates in the US are likely to remain unchanged for some time yet, barring a significant downturn in economic data.

All eyes on Friday’s Eurozone PMI data

Activity has been pretty light on the ground in the Eurozone this week. We did get some second-tier construction numbers out yesterday, which surprised to the downside. Given the sector’s relatively small contribution to overall GDP, this was largely overlooked.

Next up will be a speech from European Central Bank member Philip Lane later this afternoon. The main attention will, however, be on Friday’s all-important preliminary PMI data for November, which should give us a decent indication as to how the Euro Area economy is performing going into year-end.