Central Banks

The US Dollar (USD) weakened overnight as the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) left its key interest rate unchanged at 0.50% and pared the outlook for more rate hikes this year. The market expectation is now that there will likely only be two 0.25% rate hikes this year, down from December’s prediction of four.

Whilst the Federal Reserve acknowledged that the US economy was expanding at a moderate pace, economic projections were downgraded with Real GDP forecast at 2.2% this year down from earlier predictions of 2.4%. The Federal Reserve acknowledged the growing risks of a weakening global economic outlook.

Today the market will focus on interest rate decisions from the Swiss National Bank (SNB) at 08:30, Norges Bank (Central Bank of Norway) at 09:00 and the Bank of England (BoE) at 12:00.

Opinions on what the SNB will do today are divided. There are some expectations that in response to the European Central Bank’s (ECB) easing the SNB might cut the range of its 3 month LIBOR rate to -0.50% and -1.50% from the current -0.25% and -1.25% range. However, as EUR/CHF is held well inside recent range and the ECB have ruled out more rate cuts, the pressure on the SNB to deliver lower rates today is limited so the SNB might opt to hold rates at current levels. Nonetheless, the SNB could have a dovish tone in the accompanying statement. EUR/CHF currently trades @ 1.0990, USD/CHF @ 0.9745 and GBP/CHF @ 1.3920.

The Norges Bank today is forecast to cut its key rate by 0.25% to 0.50% and the rate outlook is also likely to be revised down. EUR/NOK currently trades @ 9.46, USD/NOK @ 8.39 and GBP/NOK @ 11.99.

The Bank of England is expected to hold rates at 0.50% and its asset purchase facility at £375bn. It is unlikely the Bank of England will tighten its monetary policy in advance of the UK referendum on whether Britain should remain in the European Union due June 23rd. The prospect of a possible BREXIT means that the Pound is likely to remain under pressure and prevent any significant gains in the Pound. GBP/USD currently trades @ 1.4273, GBP/EUR @ 1.2660 (0.79p) and GBP/JPY @ 159.32.