The main talking point for the UK yesterday saw the Bank of England's Charlie Bean demonstrating his concerns over the effect a further rise in the value of sterling would have on exports.
Any further appreciation of sterling, which has risen to nearly 10% in trade-weighted terms since March, 'would not be particularly helpful in terms of facilitating a rebalancing towards net exports'.
Bean says exports have been “somewhat disappointing” despite the 25% plus fall in sterling’s value in the first year and a half of the financial crisis.
The comments clearly made traders and investors nervous about the value of the pound with the currency dropping an average of 0.6% across the board.
In France, the central bank predicted growth of just 0.2% for the first quarter - unchanged from an earlier estimate and slower than the 0.3% in the final quarter of 2013.
French industrial production fell 0.2% in January from December - a disappointment because economists had expected 0.2% growth. The figure was dragged down by a 4.4% fall in energy production during an unusually warm month.
In Italy, industrial production posted its strongest rise in more than two years, gaining 1.0% in January and beating all economists’ forecasts in a Reuter’s poll.
Italian industrial output is still down about 24% from its most recent peak in 2008.
China’s exports unexpectedly tumbled in February, sending the trade balance into deficit.
Exports in February fell 18.% from a year earlier - much worse than the 6.8% increase forecast in a Reuters poll and down from a 10% increase in January, official figures showed.
Imports rose 10.1%, giving a trade deficit of $23bn against a surplus of $32bn in January. However, many plants and offices closed for long periods over the long lunar New Year holiday so the figures could have been skewed in the short term.
BOJ interest rate remained at 0.1% this morning, which is no real surprise but Japan's machine tool orders slowed down from 40.3% last year to 26% year on year to February. The yen has weakened marginally following the data
Bank of England Governor Mark Carney will be in the spotlight today, not just over the current FX rigging scandal surrounding the Central Bank, but also over the UK Quarterly Inflation Report. Carney, as before, will sound the Bank’s views on economic growth forecasts, inflation and the setting of interest rates.
10.00am – GBP – UK Quarterly Inflation Report.