The government has come up with a cunning way to clamp down on dog crime. It will implant an RFID “microchip” in every one of Britain’s 10.5 million dogs and the name and address of each animal will be held on a central database. The principal point of the exercise is to ensure that owners of aggressive and dangerous dogs can be brought to book. But there could be an benefit. Thousands of police detector vans will cruise suburban streets in search of unchipped animals. Anyone caught in charge of a dog that doesn’t have a chip on its shoulder will be forced to make a money transfer of £500 to the police.
It was probably not the news of this economic boost that supported sterling yesterday but, for the second time this week, the pound emerged at the top of the currency tree alongside the Japanese yen. Admittedly it was not the busiest day ever experienced by the send money abroad market. The narrow ranges were typified by the half-cent covered by sterling/euro and Cable and sterling’s net gains were modest. But, as discussed here previously, beggars can’t be choosers and sterling will gratefully accept any crumbs of forward progress that come its way.
Down at the other end of the scale the New Zealand dollar was the day’s loser, conceding two cents to the pound. Some of that loss, about half a cent, occurred during the London session. The bulk of it came later, when Wellington opened on Thursday morning and Statistics New Zealand published the employment figures for the fourth quarter of 2012. Although the rate of unemployment appeared to go the right way, falling from 7.3% to 6.9%, the decline was only because disheartened jobseekers had stopped seeking. The number of people in employment was actually down by 23k.
The Australian employment data, which came out a couple of hours later, looked rather better. Unemployment was unchanged at 5.4% and there were 10.4k new jobs, twice as many as expected. The figures were momentarily positive for the Aussie dollar but had no lasting effect. As for the rest of the day’s ecostats, German factory orders fell by slightly more than predicted and Canada’s Ivey purchasing managers’ index was quite a bit stronger than expected at 58.9.
Today’s agenda is packed with potential. Britain reports on the balance of trade and manufacturing and industrial production. German industrial production, which could well be weaker than the UK figure, appears later in the morning, shortly after the European Commission’s latest economic forecasts. After lunch come Canadian housing starts and building permits and US weekly jobless claims. The non-statistical event risks are monetary policy announcements by the Bank of England and the European Central Bank, speeches by two members of the Federal Open Market Committee (America’s MPC) and Mark Carney’s interview by parliament’s Treasury Select Committee.
The latter will be of vital importance to sterling. Thus far, the Bank of England governor-designate has only made general comments about how he might change the tone of policy. Today, whilst he will probably try to avoid stepping on Sir Mervyn’s toes, he will not be able to dodge the committee’s direct questions for the whole three hours of the hearing. He will also, surely, have to respond to Chancellor Osborne’s comment in a speech yesterday that “…monetary policy action by the BoE can and should continue to support the economy.” It should be interesting.