Pound Sterling - UK Markets

Sterling has lost ground against its major currency partners this morning, having declined over 1% against the US dollar and Japanese yen as the looming budget puts pressure on the pound.

The CBI have predicted the UK economy will contract 3.9% in 2009 with a total economic contraction of 5.1% by the end of the recession. This is more than twice the decline predicted by Alistair Darling in his pre-budget report and Wednesday's budget is expected to downgrade economic forecasts while highlighting increased government borrowing. However recent economic news shows the pace of decline is slowing in both the US and UK and the CBI expects the economy to return to positive growth by the second half of 2010. While the pound remains weak internationally, this could aid recovery through more competitive pricing and there is a reported 1.8% increase in house prices in March. There is no major data released in the UK today.

US Dollar - US Markets

The dollar is stronger this morning, reaching a one month high against the euro and gaining over 1% on the pound after a better than expected performance from Citigroup on Friday boosted Wall Street and global equities. Citigroup reported a profit of USD1.6 billion, its first in nearly 2 years and this improved market sentiment and added to the view that the US economy may be taking its ‘first steps' towards recovery.

Today Bank of America, Google and Yahoo are to release corporate earning figures and this could lead to a further revival of risk appetite. The leading indicators index is also out today and this is expected to show an easing of recession in the US as Federal cash injections and lower interest rates are work to boost spending and investment. Consumer confidence figures and jobless claims are due out later in the week.

Euro - European Markets

The euro has declined against the US dollar and yen this morning but improved against the pound ahead of the UK budget due on Wednesday. Dropping below 1.3 versus the US dollar, the euro has reached a one month low amid concerns the ECB is not doing enough to protect the eurozone economy. The euro has also hit a 3-week low against the yen.

As the US and UK economy are starting to show signs of the recession easing, the decline appears to be deepening across the eurozone and this, along with mounting concerns over the effectiveness of the ECB is placing the euro under pressure. Comments from ECB members Axel Weber and President Trichet last week also increased speculation of further interest rate cuts. There is no major data released in the eurozone today with Germany's producer price index and ZEW economic sentiment survey out tomorrow.

Other Currencies - Highlights

Currency exchange rates for the Australian and New Zealand dollars continue to shadow investor appetite for risk. After reaching a 6-month high against the euro on Friday with news of Citigroup profits, the Aussie and Kiwi dollars have slumped this morning with rumours of splits in the ECB leading investors to favour the safe haven currencies. Figures out this morning show Australian producer prices fell 0.4% in the first quarter of 2009 and are running at a 4% increase on the year.

The yen continues to strengthen despite declining export figures and the deteriorating Japanese economy. The Bank of Japan is expected to slash economic forecasts this week as consumer demand collapses and the Japanese economy is expected to contract by 4.2% in 2010. Japan's leading economic indicators and Canadian foreign investment figures are released today.