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  • richard evans

UK retail sales disappoint but main focus remains on Middle East tensions

Good morning

Disappointing UK retail sales this morning did little to help GBP and indeed little to help confidence in the overall economy. The headline figure of -1.2% was far below the 0° that had been expected, hardly a storming target to start with. GBPUSD is now 1.2120, it had traded to 1.2095 after the release, pretty much matching yesterdays lows, To confirm this is predominantly GBP weakness, GBPEUR is down at 1.1450, over 100 points lower than levels seen just a couple of days ago.

Somehow the Euro looks set to end the week higher against USD as well as GBP, EURUSD now 1.0590 but it did trade as high as 1.0615 yesterday evening. That move came as Powell spoke, he made the comment that although he cannot rule out further rate rises, the Fed can be cautious. He did add that rates have not yet been high for long enough. Not quite as dovish as some were looking for but still enough to weaken the dollar a little. For me, his comments were as expected. He was never going to commit to anything and I don’t feel his stance has changed a great deal since the last Fed meeting. His speech was interrupted for a while by climate change protestors. We have a couple of Fed officials taking the opportunity to speak this afternoon ahead of the blackout period for the next FOMC meeting.

The US have put in place a worldwide travel warning for its citizens amid rising tensions in the Middle East. It is difficult to know exactly what is going on the region but many reports doing the rounds of US interests in the Middle East coming under fire from drones and rockets launched from a variety of places. Exactly what happens next remains to be seen but Israel still seem set on a ground offensive in Gaza. Would this really rid the world of Hamas though? Or would it increase the hatred that is already running high?

USDJPY is within a few pips of 150.00. A tiny spike higher to 149.99 this morning was followed by a swift move back to 149.65, but almost immediately returned to 149.95. Not sure if that was a warning shot from Japan or just a sign of how nervous the markets are to the possibility of intervention. Yen though is clearly not the safe haven it once was. Watching 150.00 with interest.

Gold on the other hand has seen a strong push higher since the attacks a couple of weeks ago. In early October it was trading as low as $1811, since then it has pushed up to $1985 and unless we see de-escalation in the Middle East it is quite likely to soon be testing $2000 for the first time since mid-May.

Apologies for the late running this morning. I had to drop off a BMW I have for a recall. It is not a new car, some ten years old now, I’ve had it for about eight years. It has been fantastic but doesn’t meet the ULEZ criteria so it looks like it’ll have to go. Anyway the recall is for new front airbags. According to the letter I received from BMW, a fault has been found which could cause shrapnel should the airbags need to inflate which could, according to BMW, cause serious injury or death. Eight years I’ve been driving around with a potential hand grenade in front of me! Thank goodness nothing untoward happened in that time. I dread to think how much money the recalls must cost BMW.

I’m rather hoping this spell of terrible weather is easing up for the weekend. Mind you there is plenty of sport to watch if we are confined to indoors. Premier League resumes after the international break. Australia are taking on Pakistan in the cricket world cup as I type, but more interest for me in the rugby where the first of the semi-finals kicks off this evening, Argentina taking on the mighty All Blacks. New Zealand have had a terrific tournament since their defeat at the hands of France in the first match of the world cup and in their current form it is difficult to see anything other than a decent victory. However Argentina have proved they are a force to be reckoned with, they have reached the semi-finals after all by beating Wales. They are 11-1 to beat NZ, might be worth a small flutter just in case of a major surprise.

Tomorrow sees England take on South Africa in both the cricket and rugby world cups. I don’t rate our chances in either unfortunately but its not impossible we can raise our game and come out on top. Backing South Africa in both matches as a double gives odds of just over evens.

Have a great weekend, it’s half term next week so anyone commuting might find traffic and trains a little less busy. Stay dry…

- 13.30 CAD retail sales

- 14.00 Feds Harker speaks

- 17.15 Feds Mester speaks

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