Pound Sterling -UK Markets

The sterling-euro exchange rate weakened slightly this morning although the pound is still trading at the top of recent ranges at 1.14 against the euro. The sterling- dollar exchange rate is currently in the region of 1.59 and the pound has gained over 1% to trade at 154 against the yen.

Concern is mounting this morning for British car maker Vauxhall after the breakdown of European GM talks last night. While the German government is set to play a large role in the negotiations, the UK government is facing criticism for its failure to protect British jobs and workers. In another corporate merger, Spanish banking giant Santander is set to take control of high street banks Bradford & Bingley, Abbey and Alliance & Leicester. The CBI distributive trends survey is published today and this is expected to provide further evidence that economic decline is easing in the UK.

US Dollar - US Markets

The US dollar has recovered against the pound and euro overnight with exchange rates climbing to 0.62 and 0.72 respectively. The dollar has also gained over 1.5% on the Japanese yen and has dipped against the Australian, New Zealand and Canadian dollars.

The dollar strengthened yesterday on the back of safe haven buying as investors worried that rising yields on US debt could hinder US economic recovery. The US trillion dollar budget deficit could affect levels of quantitative easing in the US and this is putting the dollar under pressure. Figures released yesterday brought further evidence the property market is stabilizing with a rise in pre-owned home prices. Orders for durable goods and new home sales are released today and both are expected to have moderated in recent months.

Euro - European Markets

Euro exchange rates have had a bullish run on the US dollar and pound this morning, rising 0.2% and 0.45% respectively. After reaching a high of 1.40 on May 22, the euro exchange rate has dropped back to 1.38 against the dollar this morning and has risen 1.75% against the yen to 134.

All night negotiations in Berlin failed to secure a future for the European division of General Motors last night, with Italian car maker Fiat and Canadian auto manufacturer Magna the two buyers left in the running. The German government is playing a central role in negotiations and is expected to provide billions of euros worth of finance for the takeover. Unemployment in Germany has risen to 8.2% in May, up 0.1% from last month. The German government expects the economy to shrink 6% this year. Euro area economic confidence figures are released today and the eurozone unemployment rate is due tomorrow.

Other Currencies - Highlights

The New Zealand dollar has strengthened this morning following the announcement of the annual budget. Finance minister Bill English deferred tax cuts as a means of servicing New Zealand's growing budget deficit and this prompted a positive reaction from the Standard & Poor's which raised New Zealand's credit rating. The NZD rose to USD0.61 and has climbed 23% against the dollar in the last three months. Sovereign debt is expected to peak at 43% of GDP in 2017.

The Japanese yen has fallen the most in eight weeks against the US dollar and has also slid against the euro amid signs the recession is easing. Domestically the Japanese economy remains weak as rising unemployment and low domestic demand force down retail sales figures. Retail sales slid by 2.9% in April, falling for the eighth consecutive month. There is a host of economic data out in Japan today including the jobless rate, household spending and industrial production figures for April.