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Trade time

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  • EU leaders have reportedly agreed the broad outlines of a budget deal for the rest of the decade. It still would have to pass the European Parliament, which does not like cutting spending (it reduces the Parliament's illusion of importance).
  • Chinese trade data is showing its normal susceptibility to the lunar cycle, but still posted strong exports and imports (commodities being key to the latter in anticipation of investment and construction). The data will correct negatively in February.
  • Japan's current account surplus was in fact a deficit again in December (even with Chinese economic growth - a hint that China does not matter as much as trade polemicists might have us believe). Imports of energy are part of this, and with a weaker yen will only become a bigger drag.
  • US trade data still lies ahead of us, to complete the picture. In Italy we have the prospect of Mr Berlusconi giving a speech - given his increased support in recent opinion polls, international investors may pay some attention to this.

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