Pound Sterling - UK Markets

The pound dipped to 0.90 versus the euro yesterday after the announcement of “eye watering” government debt in the UK rattled markets. Sterling lost ground the euro and dollar throughout the day but appears to have been given the benefit of the doubt this morning, maintaining support above 1.45 and 1.11 on the dollar and euro respectively.

The UK budget announced yesterday has been subject to in-depth economic analysis and will continue to do so over the coming days. Among the headline grabbers was Darling's top tax rate of 50% and predicted growth contraction of 3-3.5% for 2009. Higher tax levels raised the issue of competitiveness internationally and prompted speculation that top investors would keep their money elsewhere. The government also confirmed the view that a weak pound in the short term will give export markets a much needed boost. The budget deficit, predicted to reach 12% of GDP, put gilt prices under pressure and sent Sterling exchange rates lower. Unemployment, the housing market, auto sales and the ‘greening' of new industry also took precedence in the new budget. Bank of England minutes released yesterday showed the MPC unanimously voted to maintain current interest rates and quantitative easing levels. To cap off a big week in the UK, GDP figures and retail sales are due tomorrow.

US Dollar - US Markets

The dollar has weakened this morning, down over 0.5% against the pound, Australian and Kiwi dollars as positive news from the Eurozone has revitalised investor confidence. The dollar is currently in the vicinity of 0.68 against the pound, 0.76 against the euro and 98 against the yen.

Renewed concern over the banking sector caused a drop in equities late in the day yesterday as markets continue to oscillate between positive and negative territory depending on the latest set of data released. News that Morgan Stanley operated less profitably than expected, combined with the IMF report that contradicted UK growth predictions caused a plunge in risk appetite but markets have rallied this morning on the back of positive news from the eurozone. Initial and existing jobless claims, as well as new home sales for March are due in the US today.

Euro - European Markets

The euro has rallied this morning, boosted by a flight from sterling following the announcement of the UK budget and on the back of economic data showing recession easing in the eurozone. The euro is currently trading at 1.30 against the dollar and is up to 0.89 against the pound. 

The German purchasing manager index out this morning has shown decline at the slowest rate in 5 months in both the manufacturing and service sectors. Industrial new orders for the eurozone also dropped less than expected and the EMU current account came in a EUR-8.1 billion. In addition to the news that Credit Suisse operated profitably for the first quarter of 2009 and French economic sentiment rose for the second consecutive month, this has supported the euro and moderated market opinion that the eurozone is becoming more entrenched in recession. The Swiss ZEW survey is due later in the day with Germany's IFO business climate and expectations survey due tomorrow.

Other Currencies - Highlights

The Australian dollar continue to tread familiar ranges against the dollar and euro but spiked against the pound overnight as sterling was battered by low growth predictions and high budget deficits from the UK budget. Core inflation in Australia remained relatively high and economists predict the central bank is nearing the end of its interest rate reductions. Poor results for Morgan Stanley sent the New Zealand dollar lower as risk appetite diminished and comments from New Zealand finance minister Bill English, that New Zealand may be in its sixth quarter of recession also hurt the Kiwi currency. The Australian and New Zealand dollars are trading in the vicinity of 2.04 and 2.59 respectively.