Sterling loses ground

Sterling has lost ground ahead of this week’s votes in the UK parliament, falling to around $1.30 against the dollar (well off its highs of over $1.33 less than two weeks ago) and weakening to 86.5p against the euro (down from a recent high of close to 85p). The single currency, meanwhile, ceded ground to the dollar last week, falling by more than a cent to close out Friday trading at around $1.1250 (albeit this was off its lows of the week of just under $1.12). Elsewhere, bond yields in the core markets fell quite a bit last week, as the ECB said any hike in Euro area interest rates will be further delayed

It seems, judging by media reports, and with the EU’s “concessions” on the border backstop proving insufficient/unacceptable, that Theresa May’s Brexit deal is headed for another defeat in parliament tomorrow and perhaps by a sizeable margin to boot. If that is the case, then presumably parliament will vote on Wednesday to reject leaving the EU on March 29th without a deal, and presumably vote on Thursday in favour of extending Article 50 while also seeking to have some same say over what an extension (which has to be approved by the EU-27) might seek to achieve

Employment in the US rose by just 20k in February according to Friday’s “payrolls” report, much weaker than the consensus expected (circa 190k). However, the former is likely to prove an aberration, and other aspects of the report were strong, including a fall in the standard unemployment rate to 3.8%; a decline in the so-called underemployment rate (a broader measure  of spare resources in the labour market) to a new cycle low; and a pick up in the annual rate of growth in hourly earnings to a new cycle high

Data due across this week this include retail sales in the US (Monday) and GDP in the UK (tomorrow), with GDP (Q4 2018) due here at home on Thursday.