Fri, Dec 14, 2018 @ 05:17 GMT

ECB lowered 2019 growth and inflation forecast, continuing confidence with increasing caution

    In the post meeting press conference, ECB President Mario Draghi said the assessment of risks was a focal point in the discussion during the meeting. And he’d summarize the discussions with “continuing confidence with increasing caution”.

    ECB lowered both 2018 and 2019 growth forecast. Growth is now projected to be at 1.9% in 2018 (prior 2.0%), 1.7% in 2019 (1.8% prior), 1.7% in 2020 (unchanged) and 1.5% in 2021 (new). Draghi said that risks are “broadly balanced” but balance of risks is “moving to the downside”. He noted “persistence uncertainties” related to geopolitical factors, the threat of protectionism, vulnerabilities in emerging markets and financial market volatility”, as reasons.

    On HICP inflation, it’s now projected to be at 1.8% in 2018 (1.7% prior), 1.6% in 2019 (1.7% prior), 1.7% in 2020 (unchanged), 1.8% in 2021 (new). ECB noted that headline inflation is likely to fall over the coming months “On the basis of current futures prices for oil”. Underlying inflation remains “generally muted”. Though, “domestic cost pressures are continuing to strengthen and broaden”.

    Full introductory statement and press conference live stream here.

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    ECB press conference live stream, and introductory statement.

      INTRODUCTORY STATEMENT

      Ladies and gentlemen, the Vice-President and I are very pleased to welcome you to our press conference. We will now report on the outcome of today’s meeting of the Governing Council, which was also attended by the President of the Eurogroup, Mr Centeno.

      Based on our regular economic and monetary analyses, we decided to keep the key ECB interest rates unchanged. We continue to expect them to remain at their present levels at least through the summer of 2019, and in any case for as long as necessary to ensure the continued sustained convergence of inflation to levels that are below, but close to, 2% over the medium term.

      Regarding non-standard monetary policy measures, our net purchases under the asset purchase programme (APP) will end in December 2018. At the same time, we are enhancing our forward guidance on reinvestment. Accordingly, we intend to continue reinvesting, in full, the principal payments from maturing securities purchased under the APP for an extended period of time past the date when we start raising the key ECB interest rates, and in any case for as long as necessary to maintain favourable liquidity conditions and an ample degree of monetary accommodation.

      While incoming information has been weaker than expected, reflecting softer external demand but also some country and sector-specific factors, the underlying strength of domestic demand continues to underpin the euro area expansion and gradually rising inflation pressures. This supports our confidence that the sustained convergence of inflation to our aim will proceed and will be maintained even after the end of our net asset purchases. At the same time, uncertainties related to geopolitical factors, the threat of protectionism, vulnerabilities in emerging markets and financial market volatility remain prominent. Significant monetary policy stimulus is still needed to support the further build-up of domestic price pressures and headline inflation developments over the medium term. Our forward guidance on the key ECB interest rates, reinforced by the reinvestments of the sizeable stock of acquired assets, continues to provide the necessary degree of monetary accommodation for the sustained convergence of inflation to our aim. In any event, the Governing Council stands ready to adjust all of its instruments, as appropriate, to ensure that inflation continues to move towards the Governing Council’s inflation aim in a sustained manner.

      Let me now explain our assessment in greater detail, starting with the economic analysis. Euro area real GDP increased by 0.2%, quarter on quarter, in the third quarter of 2018, following growth of 0.4% in the previous two quarters. The latest data and survey results have been weaker than expected, reflecting a diminishing contribution from external demand and some country and sector-specific factors. While some of these factors are likely to unwind, this may suggest some slower growth momentum ahead. At the same time, domestic demand, also backed by our accommodative monetary policy stance, continues to underpin the economic expansion in the euro area. The strength of the labour market, as reflected in ongoing employment gains and rising wages, still supports private consumption. Moreover, business investment is benefiting from domestic demand, favourable financing conditions and improving balance sheets. Residential investment remains robust. In addition, the expansion in global activity is still expected to continue, supporting euro area exports, although at a slower pace.

      This assessment is broadly reflected in the December 2018 Eurosystem staff macroeconomic projections for the euro area. These projections foresee annual real GDP increasing by 1.9% in 2018, 1.7% in 2019, 1.7% in 2020 and 1.5% in 2021. Compared with the September 2018 ECB staff macroeconomic projections, the outlook for real GDP growth has been revised slightly down in 2018 and 2019.

      The risks surrounding the euro area growth outlook can still be assessed as broadly balanced. However, the balance of risks is moving to the downside owing to the persistence of uncertainties related to geopolitical factors, the threat of protectionism, vulnerabilities in emerging markets and financial market volatility.

      According to Eurostat’s flash estimate, euro area annual HICP inflation declined to 2.0% in November 2018, from 2.2% in October, reflecting mainly a decline in energy inflation. On the basis of current futures prices for oil, headline inflation is likely to decrease over the coming months. Measures of underlying inflation remain generally muted, but domestic cost pressures are continuing to strengthen and broaden amid high levels of capacity utilisation and tightening labour markets, which is pushing up wage growth. Looking ahead, underlying inflation is expected to increase over the medium term, supported by our monetary policy measures, the ongoing economic expansion and rising wage growth.

      This assessment is also broadly reflected in the December 2018 Eurosystem staff macroeconomic projections for the euro area, which foresee annual HICP inflation at 1.8% in 2018, 1.6% in 2019, 1.7% in 2020 and 1.8% in 2021. Compared with the September 2018 ECB staff macroeconomic projections, the outlook for HICP inflation has been revised slightly up for 2018 and down for 2019.

      Turning to the monetary analysis, broad money (M3) growth stood at 3.9% in October 2018, after 3.6% in September. Apart from some volatility in monthly flows, M3 growth continues to be supported by bank credit creation. The narrow monetary aggregate M1 remained the main contributor to broad money growth.

      In line with the upward trend observed since the beginning of 2014, the growth of loans to the private sector continues to support the economic expansion. The annual growth rate of loans to non-financial corporations stood at 3.9% in October 2018, after 4.3% in September, while the annual growth rate of loans to households remained unchanged at 3.2%. The pass-through of the monetary policy measures put in place since June 2014 continues to significantly support borrowing conditions for firms and households, access to financing – in particular for small and medium-sized enterprises – and credit flows across the euro area.

      To sum up, a cross-check of the outcome of the economic analysis with the signals coming from the monetary analysis confirmed that an ample degree of monetary accommodation is still necessary for the continued sustained convergence of inflation to levels that are below, but close to, 2% over the medium term.

      In order to reap the full benefits from our monetary policy measures, other policy areas must contribute more decisively to raising the longer-term growth potential and reducing vulnerabilities. The implementation of structural reforms in euro area countries needs to be substantially stepped up to increase resilience, reduce structural unemployment and boost euro area productivity and growth potential. Regarding fiscal policies, the Governing Council reiterates the need for rebuilding fiscal buffers. This is particularly important in countries where government debt is high and for which full adherence to the Stability and Growth Pact is critical for safeguarding sound fiscal positions. Likewise, the transparent and consistent implementation of the EU’s fiscal and economic governance framework over time and across countries remains essential to bolster the resilience of the euro area economy. Improving the functioning of Economic and Monetary Union remains a priority. The Governing Council welcomes the ongoing work and urges further specific and decisive steps to complete the banking union and the capital markets union.

      Further information on the technical parameters of the reinvestments will be released at 15:30 CET on the ECB’s website.

      We are now at your disposal for questions.

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      US initial claims dropped to 206k vs expectation 227k

        US initial jobless claims dropped -27k to 206k in the week ending December 8, better than expectation of 227k. Four-week moving average dropped -3.75k to 224.75k. Continuing claims rose 25k to 1.661M in the week ending December 1. Four week moving average of continuing claims dropped -2.5k to 1.66575M.

        Also released, US import price index dropped -1.6% mom in November, Canada new housing price index rose 0.0% mom in October.

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        UK PM May now in Brussels seeking both legal and political assurances on the backstop

          UK Prime Minister Theresa May survived the leadership challenge yesterday. She’s now in Brussels for the EU summit. She told reporters that “I don’t expect an immediate breakthrough, but what I do hope is that we can start to work as quickly as possible on the assurances that are necessary.” And those include both legal and political assurances on the backstop.

          Also, May confirmed that she will not lead the Conservatives into 2022 election.

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          ECB maintains interest rates and forward guidance, to end APP this month

            ECB let interest rates unchanged today as widely expected. That is, main refinancing rate, marginal lending facility and deposit facility rates are held at 0.00%, 0.25% and -0.40% respectively.

            ECB maintained forward guidance that interest rates will “remain at their present levels at least through the summer of 2019”.

            Also, the asset purchase program will end this month as scheduled.

            Full statement below:

            Monetary Policy Decisions

            At today’s meeting the Governing Council of the European Central Bank (ECB) decided that the interest rate on the main refinancing operations and the interest rates on the marginal lending facility and the deposit facility will remain unchanged at 0.00%, 0.25% and -0.40% respectively. The Governing Council expects the key ECB interest rates to remain at their present levels at least through the summer of 2019, and in any case for as long as necessary to ensure the continued sustained convergence of inflation to levels that are below, but close to, 2% over the medium term.

            Regarding non-standard monetary policy measures, the net purchases under the asset purchase programme (APP) will end in December 2018. At the same time, the Governing Council is enhancing its forward guidance on reinvestment. Accordingly, the Governing Council intends to continue reinvesting, in full, the principal payments from maturing securities purchased under the APP for an extended period of time past the date when it starts raising the key ECB interest rates, and in any case for as long as necessary to maintain favourable liquidity conditions and an ample degree of monetary accommodation.

            The President of the ECB will comment on the considerations underlying these decisions at a press conference starting at 14:30 CET today.

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            Ifo slashed German 2019 growth forecast from 1.9% to 1.1%, auto weakness to continue

              Ifo slashed German economy growth forecast in the Winter report released today. 2018 growth forecast is revised down from 1.9% to 1.5%. 2019 growth forecast is revised down from 1.9% to 1.1%. For 2020, growth forecast is revised down from 1.7 to 1.6%. Ifo warned that “the weakness triggered by the automotive industry will continue until 2019. A wide range of uncertainties are also curbing the global economy, and especially Brexit, Italy and US trade policy to name but a few.”

              In the report, Ifo said downside risks for global economy “grew markedly” compared to autumn. US has imposed customs duties on a “large number of imports”, followed by retaliation from China and the EU. And “it is impossible to predict the direction that the trade dispute will take”. In case of escalation, Ifo warned “global trade in goods and overall economic production can be expected to suffer a major setback.”

              Also, trade dispute will lead to faster rise in inflation. And if advanced economies central banks opt for “far more restrictive measures”, this may prompt a “return to capital outflows from emerging markets.” Hard Brexit “represents another risk for the economy both in Britain and in the euro area.” Besides, high risk premium on Italian government bonds also
              pose a threat to economic development in the Eurozone.

              Full release here.

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              SNB Jordan: Trade tensions, Brexit, Italy risks could lead to financial market turbulence

                SNB Chairman Thomas Jordan warned in the post meeting press conference that “surveys indicate that trade tensions have prompted companies to reassess their investment plans and value chains.” Also, Brexit “uncertainty remains high following the postponement of the vote in the UK parliament.” He also pointed to the “tension surrounding Italy’s fiscal policy also persists”.

                Jordan said “all these risks could lead to turbulence in the financial markets, jeopardize global economic growth, and also influence monetary policy.” He added that Swiss Franc remains highly valued. At the same time, FX situation is still fragile.

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                Italian yield drops to lowest since Sep after Italy offered budget concessions

                  Italy 10 year yield drops notably today on news that the coalition government offered major concession to EU regarding its budget. Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte told reports after meeting European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker that 2019 budget deficit target from 2.4% to 2.04%.

                  Conte emphasized that “We are not betraying the trust of Italians and we respect the commitments made with the measures which have the most impact.” He added that “growth will be above our expectations” and the structural deficit will fall. Economy Minister Giovanni Tria will travel to Brussels today to guide the remaining parts of the budget talks with EU.

                  Italy 10 year yield is down -0.076 at 2.937 at the time of writing. It’s now at the lowest level since late September.

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                  EU to insist no time limit on Irish border backstop, just pledge to work on a EU-UK deal

                    European Union Budget Commissioner Guenther Oettinger reiterated the commission’s stance on Brexit negotiation. That is, ” final clarification yes, but further negotiations no”. Oettinger went further and emphasized that there won’t be a time limit for the backstop solution on Irish border. He added “that doesn’t work. We need to have clear rules for people, products and goods at the border of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Belfast and Dublin.”

                    Separately, it’s reported the EU is ready to provide further assurance regarding the backstop. Reuters reported after seeing a six-point document for today’s summit. The assurance would include that “The European Council underlines that the backstop does not represent a desirable outcome for the Union. The backstop is only intended as an insurance policy … It is the Union’s firm determination to work speedily on a subsequent agreement.”

                    And even if triggered EU would say the backstop would “apply only temporarily unless and until it is superseded by a subsequent agreement.” EU would also commit to “best endeavours” to agree on a new EU-UK deal if the backstop is triggered “so that it would only be in place for a short period and only as long as strictly necessary.”

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                    SNB helds negative rate, pledge to intervene when needed, revised down inflation forecasts

                      SNB kept sight deposit rate unchanged at -0.75% as widely expected. Three month Libor target range is held at -1.25% to -0.25% correspondingly. SNB also pledged to “remain active in the foreign exchange market as necessary”.

                      SNB also noted that Swiss Fran is “still highly valued, and the situation on the foreign exchange market continues to be fragile.” Negative interest rate and the willingness to intervene “remains essential”. Theses measures “keep the attractiveness of Swiss franc investments low and reduce upward pressure on the currency.

                      Near term inflation forecast was revised lower due to “drop in oil prices”. Medium term inflation forecast is also revised lower due to “more moderate growth prospects”.

                      • For 2018, inflation is forecast to be at 0.9%, unchanged
                      • For 2019, inflation is forecast to be at 0.5%, revised down from 0.8%
                      • For 2020, inflation is forecast to be at 1.0%, revised down from 1.2%

                      Slow down in Q3 is seen as temporary by SNB. And it anticipates “solid growth in the coming quarters”. For the near term, world economy will continue to expand “somewhat above potential”. But “gradual slowdown is likely in the medium term”. SNB pointed out some significant risks including “political uncertainties and protectionist tendencies” For 2018, growth is projected to be at 2.5%, slightly revised down. For 2019, growth is projected to slow to 1.5%

                      Full statement here.

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                      ECB to revise down growth and inflation forecasts, SNB to stay cautious

                        ECB is widely expected to keep benchmark interest rate unchanged at 0.00% today. And it should stick with the plan to end the asset purchase program after December. Nevertheless, there are prospects of some dovish shifts. As indicated by recent economic data, growth momentum in the Eurozone, in particular in Germany, has slowed down quite notably. Recent slump in oil prices would also put some downward pressure in the energy led headline inflation in the bloc. ECB is generally expected to revise down 2019 growth and inflation forecasts.

                        President Mario Draghi’s comments on the economy will also be watched. ECB has so far viewed the slowdown in second half as temporary. But policy makers could start to feel more uncertainty about that. In particular, the slowdown in global trade due to protectionism is starting to bite exports growth, most notably in Germany. But for now, we’re not expecting ECB to change the forward guidance of keeping interest rates at present level at least through summer of 2019. The forward guidance itself is flexible enough.

                        SNB is also widely expected to keep the Sight Deposit rate unchanged at -0.75%, with 3-month Libor target range held at -1.25 to -0.25%. Some traders might look for hints of a rate hike in 2019. But it’s rather unlikely. EUR/CHF ‘s uptrend topped at 1.2004 back in April, rejected by the key 1.2 handle. Subsequent events, including Iran sanctions, Italian elections and budget, Turkish Lira crisis, trade war, stock markets rout, etc, sent the cross back to below 1.15. Meanwhile, domestically, Swiss economy also contracted -0.2% in Q3. There is little room for SNB policy makers to move away from negative interest rate.

                        Some suggested readings on ECB and SNB

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                        Canada warns US not to politicize extradition, China urges Canada to distance from US hegemonism

                          Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland warned the US (not China) not to politicize the arrest and extradition of Huawei top executive Meng Wanzhou. Trump said on Tuesday that he could intervene in the case if it’s good for trade negotiation with China. When asked about Trump’s comments, Freeland said “our extradition partners should not seek to politicize the extradition process or use it for ends other than the pursuit of justice and following the rule of law”.

                          Separately, Chinese state-owned hawkish media Global Times urged Canada to “distance itself from US hegemonism and fulfill its obligations to help maintain international order and protect human rights”. And the media also warned that “Washington is mistaken if it thinks it can take Meng hostage and ransom her for concessions in the upcoming trade talks.”

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                          Sterling rebound lost steam after UK PM May survived leadership challenge

                            Sterling softens mildly in Asia after UK Prime Minister Theresa May survived the leadership challenge. 200 Conservative MPs voted in support for May in the no-confidence vote. 117 voted against her. That’s way more than enough to secure her place as Prime Minister. But it’s still alarming than more than a third of the MPs of her party wanted her out. May herself also admitted that “a significant number of colleagues did cast a vote against me and I’ve listened to what they said”. But she added it’s time to “get on with the job of delivering Brexit for the British people”.

                            May will go to Brussels for the two day EU summit today. But she’s only given 10 mins to tell EU leaders what she needs to get the Brexit agreement through parliament. EU’s stance is very clear that the agreement itself is not renegotiable. But they’re open to offer “assurances” regarding the Irish border backstop, and others. The results of the summit could continue to trigger volatility in the pound.

                            Despite yesterday’s rebound, Sterling remains near term bearish. 1.2811 resistance in GBP/USD 144.02 resistance in GBP/JPY and 0.8931 support in EUR/GBP need to be taken out to confirm short term bottoming. Otherwise, more selloff is still in favor in the Pound.

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                            Today’s top mover: GBP/NZD got strong support from 1.8130 fib level, heading back to 1.9020

                              Sterling is without a doubt a star today. The triggering of the no-confidence of vote on UK PM Theresa May turns out to be a blessing for her, as well as the pound. More and more MPs turn out to support May as the ballot at 1800-2000 GMT approaches. And we tend to agree with Environment Secretary Michael Gove that May would win the leadership challenge “handsomely”. That will give her a strong position to go to EU summit tomorrow, to get the “assurances” she need to push the Brexit agreement through the Commons. We’ll see how it goes in a few hours, but things are looking positive.

                              For now, GBP/NZD is the biggest mover today, a loser this time, as NZD’s rebound also lost steam. It turns out that 61.8% retracement of 1.6684 to 2.0469 at 1.8130 is a rather tough support level to beat, opposite to what we’ve expected here. It’s a bit early to declare, but considering that daily MACD is turning up, fall from 2.0469 should have at least made a short term bottom at 1.8125.

                              We’d now expect stronger rebound to 1.8634. Firm break there will confirm this case and bring further rise to 38.2% retracement of 2.0469 to 1.8125 at 1.9020. Reaction from 1.9020 will reveal how deep the fall from 2.0469 would develop into.

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                              EU to offer assurances to UK on Brexit, but not re-negotiations

                                Reuters reported that EU is preparing to offer UK some assurances that can help get the Brexit agreement through the Parliament. An unnamed official was quoted saying “I cannot tell you what sort of re-assurance leaders will give to Prime Minister May. What is not feasible is the re-negotiation of the withdrawal agreement, everything else is possible. Whatever assurances can be given, cannot contradict the deal”.

                                The ideas will likely be discussed at the EU summit on Thursday and Friday, after May is given a chance to explain her concerns.

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                                US CPI slowed to 2.2%, core up to 2.2%, Dollar dips mildy

                                  Dollar dips mildly after US inflation data. Headline CPI slowed notably to 2.2% yoy in November, down from 2.2%. On the other hand, core CPI rose to 2.2%, up from 2.1% yoy. Both matched market expectations. Headline CPI peaked at 2.9% earlier in June while core CPI peaked at 2.4% in July.

                                  For now, Fed is still widely expected to raise interest rate again next week, and most likely another one in March. But diminishing upside pressure in inflation could start to tie Fed’s hand beyond March 2019.

                                  Full release here.

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                                  Sterling jumps as BBC said May has enough support to win leadership challenge

                                    More support in Sterling is seen on news of growing support for UK PM Theresa May. Most notably, BBC editor Laura Kuenssberg‏ tweeted 158 Tory MPs have now said they will back May tonight. And that should be enough for her to win.

                                    Separately, European Council President Donald Tusk said in a letter to EU27 leaders that May would brief the other leaders before dinner on the EU summit on Thursday. And then, May would leave the leaders to “adopt Brexit conclusions. The EU27 leaders will discuss their preparations for no-deal Brexit.

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                                    Into US session: Sterling strongest as UK PM May faces leadership challenge, Swiss Franc getting weak

                                      Entering the US session, the biggest news today is that UK PM Theresa May’s moment of truth has finally come. There are enough requests to trigger a no-confidence vote, which will be held at 1800-2000GMT today. The results will likely come out at around 2100GMT. The Pound actually strengthens on the news. The question is, should May will the vote, would that mean the tories should unite and stay behind her Brexit deal? And, should May lose, a new leader will come in and there is definitely not enough time for Brexit renegotiation. Then, the article 50 requests is likely needed to be revoked. Brexit would be delayed or even cancelled. These cases are most likely much better than a no-deal hard Brexit.

                                      Staying in the currency markets, Euro is trading as the second strongest one, followed by Canadian. New Zealand Dollar is the weakest one, walking its own path. Swiss Franc and, to a much lesser extend, Yen are next weakest on improved risk appetite. European stocks are trading broadly higher, including FTSE. It seems like UK investors are feeling nothing about May. Asian markets also closed broadly higher. Progress of US-China trade talk is lifting sentiments general.

                                      At the time of writing in Europe:

                                      • FTSE is up 1.31%
                                      • DAX is up 0.94%
                                      • CAC is up 1.67%
                                      • German 10 year bund yield is up 0.002 at 0.238
                                      • Italian 10 year yield is down -0.052 at 3.065. German-Italian spread is now at 282

                                      Earlier in Asia:

                                      • Nikkei closed up 2.15% at 21602.72
                                      • Hong Kong HSI rose 1.61% to 26186.71
                                      • China Shanghai SSE rose 0.31% to 2602.15
                                      • Singapore Strait Times rose 1.33% to 3099.99
                                      • 10 year JGB yield rose 0.0105 to 0.056, back above 0.5 handle.
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                                      UK Prime Minister Theresa May speaks regarding leadership challenge, video

                                        UK Prime Minister Theresa May speaks regarding leadership challenge. In short, May pledged to contest the no-confidence vote with “everything I have got”. She believed the deal with EU is “attainable”. And she warned that a change of leadership in the Conservative now will “put the future of our country at risk and create uncertainty we can least afford it”.

                                        And she also warned that a change of leadership now would “hand the control of the Brexit negotiation to opposition MPs”. And the new leader will have to extend or rescind article 50, “delaying or even stopping ” Brexit. Video below.

                                        LIVE NOW: British Prime Minister Theresa May is addressing the media ahead of a vote of no confidence in her leadership.

                                        Gepostet von ABC News am Mittwoch, 12. Dezember 2018

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                                        Confidence vote on UK PM May triggered, Sterling steady

                                          It’s confirmed. Graham Brady, chair of the 1922 Committee, has received at least 48 letters from Conservative PMs for a confidence vote on Prime Minister Theresa May. The’s over 15% threshold for triggering the request. A ballot will now be held today between 1800 to 2000 GMT today.

                                          Brady said in a press release that “the threshold of 15% of the parliamentary party seeking a vote of confidence in the leader of the Conservative party has been exceeded.” And, with votes counted “immediately afterwards and an announcement will be made as soon as possible”.

                                          Sterling is actually rather calm on the news.

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