The Plan B Brexit Vote Puts the Pound Front and Center

It’s round 2 on the Brexit front, with Parliament preparing for a Plan B vote. Will there be a Plan C?
Bob Mason
Brexit fears continue to swirl around the markets
Brexit fears continue to swirl around the markets

Earlier in the Day:

Economic data released through the Asian session this morning included December trade data out of New Zealand and December business confidence numbers out of Australia.

For the Kiwi Dollar, the 2018 trade balance widened to its largest deficit since October 2007, according to NZ Stats.

  • Month-on-month, the trade balance shifted from an NZ$955m deficit to an NZ$264m surplus, coming in ahead of a forecasted NZ$225m surplus. The monthly surplus in Dec-17 stood at NZ$614m.
  • Year-on-year, the trade deficit widened from a revised NZ$5,510m to NZ$5,860m.
  • Annual imports for the year ending Dec-18 hit a new high NZ$63.4bn, up by NZ$6.9bn from Dec-17.
    • The jump in imports was attributed to large rises in the value of imported petrol and crude oil, coupled with the impact of a weaker Kiwi Dollar.
    • The value of imported petroleum and products stood at NZ$7.7bn, up by NZ$2.4bn (44%) from 2017. Fuels rose by NZ$1.2bn, with crude oil rising by NZ$1.1bn.
  • The value of annual exports stood at NZ$57.5bn, up by NZ$3.9bn from 2017.
    • An increase in the exports of meats and logs were attributed to the rise.
    • The exports of meat increased by NZ$814m (12%) to NZ$7.4bn
    • The exports of logs, wood and wood articles rose by NZ$596m (13%) to NZ$5.2bn.

The Kiwi Dollar moved from $0.68312 to $0.68291 upon release of the figures, before easing to $0.6827 at the time of writing, down 0.04% for the session.

For the Aussie Dollar, the NAB Business Confidence Index came in at 3 in December, which was unchanged from the previous month.

  • The business conditions index slid by 9 points to +2, the largest fall since the global financial crisis, with the slide being broad-based across the industries.
  • The business confidence index remained below the long run average of +6.
  • All of the sub-indexes were in decline in December, with the employment index down 5 points to +4, profitability down 8 points to 0 and trading conditions down to +7 points.
  • Mining continued to lead the way, the mining index sitting at +22 points, while retail was the weakest.
  • Confidence was also highest in the mining sector, while lowest in finance, business & property services.

The Aussie Dollar moved from $0.71557 to $0.71439 upon release of the figures, before rising to $0.7153 at the time of writing, a loss of 0.18% for the session.

Elsewhere, the Japanese Yen stood at ¥109.19 at the time of writing, up by 0.15% against the Greenback, with the Yen finding support off the back of a risk-off start to the day, the Asian equity majors in the red early on.

The Day Ahead:

For the EUR, it’s yet a relatively quiet day on the data front, with key stats scheduled for release through the day being limited to consumer confidence numbers out of France and unemployment figures out of Spain.

While we would expect the EUR to show some reaction to the consumer confidence numbers, market risk sentiment and outlook towards Wednesday’s FED interest rate decision and outlook on the rate path and the U.S economy remains key.

Thrown into the mix today will be the UK’s parliamentary vote on Theresa May’s Plan B. The EUR has remained relatively resilient to the British Government’s trials and tribulations. Any hint of a no deal and there could be some EUR weakness. The UK is a key trading partner of the EU and a slump in the UK economy would certainly add to the Eurozone’s economic woes near-term.

At the time of writing, the EUR was down 0.02% to $1.1426, with risk sentiment the key drivers through the day.

For the Pound, it’s another quiet day on the data front. With no material stats scheduled for release through the day, the focus will be on Parliament and the Plan B vote.

There’s a lot going on ahead of today’s vote, with the prospects of the British PM having to face an unmalleable EU high going into today’s vote. It’s all about the backstop and there’s the prospect of an extension to the transition period.

At the time of writing, the Pound was down by 0.11% to $1.3149, with updates on Brexit and the vote the key drivers through the day.

Across the Pond, economic data scheduled for release through the day include November trade figures, house price data, and January consumer confidence numbers.

The proof will be in the pudding later today, with the government shutdown likely to have weighed on consumer confidence at the start of the year. The real question will be by how much…

Outside of the numbers, we can expect chatter from the Oval Office and Capitol Hill to also play a hand in the Dollar’s moves through the day.

At the time of writing, the Dollar Spot Index was up 0.02% to 95.765.

For the Loonie, it’s another quiet day on the economic calendar, leaving the direction of crude oil prices to dictate the way for the Loonie through the day.

The Loonie was down 0.05% to C$1.3269, against the U.S Dollar, at the time of writing.

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