The British pound is unchanged in the Wednesday session. In North American trade, GBP/USD is trading at 1.3886, down 0.01% on the day. In economic news, there are no major indicators in the UK. In the US, ADP Nonfarm Payrolls report ticked higher to 235 thousand, easily beating the estimate of 199 thousand. On Thursday, the US releases unemployment claims.
The game of hardball between Britain and the European Union continues. On Wednesday, Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, advised Prime Minister May to “pink’ her red lines on Brexit, if Britain wants to maintain a close economic relationship with the bloc. May has insisted that there will be no customs union, and the European Court of Justice will have no jurisdiction over the UK. Last week, the EU published draft negotiating guidelines for Brexit, and the guidelines warned of “negative economic consequences” if Britain does not soften its position. Tusk added that he does not want to build a wall with Britain, and the EU could offer Britain a free trade agreement, with zero tariffs. At the same time, Tusk warned that Brexit will make trade between the two sides “complicated and costly” and the EU would not allow Britain to cherry pick in any future trade arrangement. EU members are expected to sign off on the negotiating guidelines at a summit in late March, which is likely to heat up the tense relationship between London and Brussels.
In the US, tensions over proposed tariffs on steel imports continue to hurt the US dollar. President Trump appears set on applying stiff tariffs of 25% on steel, much to the consternation of the European Union and other US trading partners. However, there is plenty of domestic opposition to Trump’s plan, as Republican lawmakers, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, have come out strongly against the move. If Trump doesn’t back down, the Republicans could even resort to legislation to limit Trump’s authority on tariffs. The announcement of the tariffs last week sent the dollar broadly lower, and if the tariffs are introduced, negative investor sentiment could continue to weigh on the dollar.