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April

China declares first trade deficit in a year

Published: Friday 13 April 2018

  • Sterling continues to strengthen
  • And ‘they’ can read your mind now
​​By David Johnson
 

As the unsettling rumblings of preparation for strikes on Syrian targets echo around the UK, France and America, Russians are being warned by state TV to pack an emergency bag in case of World War Three. Propaganda, we hope, but slightly disturbing.
 
Strong day for Sterling
 
In the financial markets, Sterling had another strong day; pushing above $1.42 and €1.15.  That was in spite of a dearth of UK data. Friday’s UK data diary is also blank, so it will be interesting to see if Sterling can hold onto these gains into the weekend. A degree of profit taking should drag it back down a little.
 
First Chinese trade deficit for a year amidst trade fears
 
Overnight news included the first Chinese trade deficit in a year, as exports dropped by 2.7% and imports rose by 14.4% in March. This was an interesting result in the midst of the war of words with the US over trade and, some might argue, a slightly convenient data release in that context. I couldn’t possibly comment. I think there is little doubt the surplus will return this month.
 
The Impact of China’s data appears to have weakened the currencies of countries that service China. The Japanese Yen is weaker, but the Australasian Dollars were not so heavily impacted.
 
European Central Bank minutes also focus on trade wars, weakening Euro
 
The Euro is also a little weaker after the minutes from the last meeting of the European Central Bank (ECB) showed the head of the European Central Bank expressing fears over a looming global trade war. Perhaps the timing of all of this will help UK Brexit negotiators. If the US and China are becoming more protectionist, the UK becomes an even more valuable market for the EU. Mr Barnier won’t admit that in public of course; he’s negotiating.
 
Brexit, Syria and Russia news will dominate markets rather than data
 
Today’s data diary is slim, but we will get a few speakers from the US Federal Reserve later on and the other stories continue. Trade wars, Brexit and Syria are top of the list, but an EU investigation has revealed the Kremlin’s control of Gazprom and a number of illegal activities that flout EU law, but were covered up by Brussels. That’s a story that has legs.
 
In the corners of your mind…
 
And a group of researchers at the University of California believe they have developed a system that can read minds and they are claiming 90% accuracy. The work is aimed at people like Stephen Hawking, who would be able to interact with their computers better and without relying on eye contact. However, it also unlocks a whole world of other possibilities. It also opens the risk of being charged with ‘thinking about committing grievous bodily harm’ when that moron queue-jumps or cuts you up at the roundabout. I think we would all be in jail, but I should probably stop thinking – they might know…
 
Have a great weekend and may all your horses finish the course and come in at 100 to 1.
Wisdom
 
An elderly gentleman’s hearing had been getting worse for a number of years. Finally, he made himself a doctor’s appointment and the doctor arranged for him to have two hearing aids fitted. They were a new type, entirely invisible from the outside. He went back for a check-up a month later and the doctor said, "Your hearing is perfect. Your family must be really pleased that you can hear properly again." The gentleman replied, "Oh, I haven't told my family yet. I just sit around and listen to the conversations. I've changed my will three times!"

Today's Major Economic Releases

Market BST Data/Event Previous Expected
EUR 10:00 EU: Trade Balance 19.9b 20.2b
USD 15:00 US: JOLTS Job Openings 6.31m 6.11m

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