And round one goes to…

​​​​​Today's news headlines:

  • ‘Boris Johnson survives TV clash with Jeremy Corbyn’. According to a YouGov poll of last night’s TV debate between the two lead candidates, 51% favoured Johnson. However, it’s apparent there’s collective frustration with the debate. (Financial Times)
  • ‘China’s trade dominance dealt blow after US gains’. In H2 of 2019, China lost ground on exports to the US, which became a bigger supplier to France, Austria, and Zimbabwe. This suggests China may be reaching a peak in its export potential. Clearly, the Chinese have been focusing less on volume trade and more on value-add business, but the US-China trade dispute seems to have caused some resistance to China’s aspirations. (Financial Times)

Comrade Corbyn takes the first round

We’d rather not deep dive into each and every minute of last night’s debate between Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn; these sorts of affairs don’t usually offer up much more than how ‘Prime Ministerial’ the audience views each candidate. Nevertheless, the first televised head-to-head leading up to the December 12th general election provided a few useful takeaways. In a snap YouGov poll following the debate, voters could barely split the two; 51% said Johnson was better on the night compared to 49% who backed Corbyn. Unfortunately for the Labour leader, only 29% thought him Prime Ministerial vs 54% for Johnson.

In all honesty, that’s about as good as it got for Johnson, and this was reflected in an overnight fall in the Pound. On the night, the Prime Minister attempted to wheel most topics back around to ‘getting Brexit done’, a move that fell flat with the audience, but he also seemed to stumble over the subject of trustworthiness in politics. Corbyn appeared the more agile of the two as he outlined his plan for a second referendum that could ultimately lead to cancellation of Brexit. He then shifted to audience-favoured topics, criticising both the Conservative’s privatisation of NHS and The Royal Family. Even though the headline result was a draw, 67% of people thought Corbyn performed well compared to 59% for Johnson, suggesting that the Labour leader fared better than expected. Still, it’s worth reminding ourselves that Johnson’s Conservatives are well ahead in the polls and sheer Brexit exhaustion could shape many people’s votes on the day.

Bottom line: We’ve previously commented that both Labour and the Conservatives have promised to respond to the global call for looser fiscal policy and this will be key to the performance of the UK economy, regardless of who wins. The Conservatives plan to spend the most in a decade, while Labour would take government investment back to levels not seen since the 1970s. One thing’s clear, austerity is officially dead

GBP/USD

In the current slow market, there are few stimuli for the pair, which continues to range trade between 1.28 – 1.30. The back-and-forth reports on the US-China phase one trade deal are causing a sustained strength in the Greenback, which is the key driver heading into the weekend.

GBP/EUR

The common currency has been making small gains since the end of last week, but the Pound has remained quite level at the top of its current trading range, which means the pressure for the pair to move lower is building very slowly. Some hawkish comments from the ECB’s Luis de Guindos might punctuate the Euro rally if markets perceive a curtailment of QE is forthcoming.

EUR/USD

The pair seems to be heading towards the high of the trading range for the third successive time in a month. This morning, the Dollar is strengthening due to passage of a US Senate bill supporting the Hong Kong protests, which is likely to cause greater tension in already fragile trade negotiations.