Pound falls as government debate highlights Brexit divisions

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17 July 2018


Sterling experienced a topsy-turvy day of currency trading on Monday, erasing earlier gains after a parliament debate continued to expose divisions within Theresa May’s Conservative Party over Brexit.

rime Minister May caved to Tory eurosceptics and hardliners yesterday, accepting all four amendments to the Brexit customs union bill. The government then only narrowly passed the amendments after a backlash from pro-EU Tories, voting by 305 votes to 302. MP’s will continue to debate Brexit today, namely the government’s Trade Bill.

Tuesday could be a particularly busy one for the Pound. Governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney will be speaking this morning, followed by the release of the May labour report at 9:30am. With recent PMIs showing very strong growth in manufacturing, service and construction jobs, there could be room for an upside surprise in the unemployment and earnings numbers today.

FOMC Chair Powell to speak at Congress

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell will be the main draw in currency trading today when he makes his semi-annual appearance in front of Congress this afternoon. If his remarks from last week are anything to go by, he will likely maintain an optimistic tone over the state of the US economy. In his prepared remarks released at the end of last week, Powell expressed confidence in the economy and that gradual hikes in the key interest rate would still be warranted. Investors will be on the lookout for any comments from Powell on how a possible trade war could impact the US economy in the long run.

During Monday trading, retail sales data for June were bang in line with expectations at 0.5% month-on-month, although there was a welcome upward revision to the May number to 1.3% from 0.8%. This adds to suggestions that the world’s largest economy expanded more than initially expected in the second quarter.

Euro edges higher despite lack of major economic news

The Euro spent much of trading yesterday mostly range bound against the US Dollar, although edged modestly higher over the course of the session to touch its highest position in almost a week. Activity was relatively quiet in Europe on Monday, although the latest trade balance data did show that the currency bloc’s trade surplus did narrow for the third straight month in May. This is another sign that the Eurozone economy suffered from a relatively soft performance in the first half of the year.

Italian inflation numbers this morning will be the only economic data release of note, with EUR/USD to be instead driven by Fed Chair Powell’s speech. Euro traders will instead look ahead to Wednesday’s Euro-wide inflation numbers for June.