What do you prefer? The bad news that the Treasury clocked up a rare deficit in July, usually a month when the inflow of corporate tax receipts produces an overall surplus? Or the good news that the country's manufacturers are feeling their most chirpy since August 2011 according to the CBI?
It was an easy call for investors – go with the good news.
First, there were some plausible-sounding reasons why the July outcome for the public finances may have been distorted by technical factors, such as a change to timing of transfers to local authorities. Second, the monthly numbers are notoriously prone to revision. Third, signs of confidence among manufacturers – if they prove well-founded – are more important to the wider picture.
The net effect was to give sterling another upwards kick – the pound is now at a two-month high of $1.57 against the US dollar, hardly a laggard currency itself of late. There was even a sighting of the phrase 'safe haven' to describe the pound. And the yield on 10-year gilts rose to 2.7%.
But poor old Mark Carney at the Bank of England could be forgiven for having mixed feelings about the market's eagerness to embrace any good economic news, however tentative.
His forward guidance was designed to send a 'lower for longer' dovish message on rates. Investors aren't listening. But one can understand why: if there's a crisis brewing in Asian markets, the nuanced and hedged words of the governor of Bank of England are quickly forgotten.
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