THE SWISS NATIONAL BANK (SNB) DISCONTINUES MINIMUM EXCHANGE RATE

The Swiss National Bank (SNB) shocked financial markets on Thursday by scrapping a 3 year old cap on the Franc (CHF), sending the Franc soaring against the Euro (EUR). At one stage the Franc had appreciated nearly 30% in value against the Euro, with EUR/CHF falling from 1.2011 to 0.8597 before recovering nearly 15% back to 1.01. The Franc also dropped dramatically against the US Dollar (USD) with USD/CHF falling from 1.0220 to 0.7407 before recovering to 0.87.

As the SNB removed the upper limit on EUR/CHF, the SNB sought to discourage new flows into the Franc by cutting its sight deposit rate from -0.25% to -0.75% making it more expensive for banks and investors to hold the Franc.

The dramatic change in policy from the SNB comes a week before the European Central Bank (ECB) is expected to unveil a bond buying programme to counter deflationary pressures, feeding speculation that the ECB Quantitative Easing (QE) scheme could be so big that the SNB would have struggled to defend the EUR/CHF cap. The Euro was forced lower across the board with EUR/USD falling to 1.1567 before recovering back to 1.16 and EUR/GBP falling to 0.7623 (GBP/EUR 1.3118).

A full copy of the SNB press release can be found at: http://www.snb.ch/en/mmr/reference/pre_20150115/source/pre_20150115.en.pdf