The European Central Bank (ECB) will start its new government bond-buying programme on 9th March hoping to boost growth and lift inflation in the ailing Eurozone. The ECB plans to spend €60bn a month on buying sovereign bonds and some private sector assets with the purchases likely to last until at least September 2016.
In the UK the Bank of England (BoE) kept rates unchanged, meaning they have now been at their record low of 0.50% for six years. Whist none of the leading economists polled by Reuters expect the Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee to raise rates before the UK general election in May, there are some expectations that the BoE may increase rates sooner than currently forecast by the markets meaning that the ECB and BoE could have diverging monetary policies, thus supporting the Pound further against the Euro.
The Euro (EUR) fell to its lowest level against the US Dollar (USD) in over 11 years hitting a low so far of 1.1008 on the interbank market. The Euro also fell against the Pound (GBP) with EUR/GBP hitting a low of 0.7224 (GBP/EUR high 1.3842).
The Pound has fallen following the release of the latest minutes from the Bank of England as all 9 Monetary Policy Committee members voted to hold UK interest rates at their low of 0.50%. In previous meetings 2 members had voted for an increase in the Bank of England interest rate. These minutes have reinforced recent market expectations that it is now unlikely that the Bank of England will increase interest rates in 2015 making the Pound less attractive.
The Pound fell against the US Dollar from an earlier GBP/USD high of 1.5180 to 1.5077 before recovering back to 1.51 whilst against the Euro the Pound fell from GBP/EUR 1.3125 to 1.3020 before recovering back above 1.3050.
Elsewhere the Euro continues to trade at its lowest level against the US Dollar since 2003 trading in the 1.15s and the Swiss Franc remains strong with EUR/CHF trading near parity at 1.0009 and USD/CHF trading at 0.8650.
The US Dollar (USD) has lost some of its recent gains following this afternoon’s release of much weaker than anticipated US retail sales data. EUR/USD recovered from 1.1728 to 1.1845, whilst GBP/USD rose from 1.5145 to 1.5267. USD/CHF fell from 1.0238 to 1.0139 and USD/JPY fell from 117.96 to 116.08.
Market focus now turns to European and US Inflation data released on Friday 16/01/15.
The Pound has fallen this morning, most notably against the US Dollar, as UK Consumer Price Index data confirms UK inflation slowed to the least in five years last month at 1.2%, adding pressure on the Bank of England to keep interest rates at record lows for longer. Lower UK interest rates make the Pound less attractive to international investors seeking higher yield. The perception earlier this year that the Bank of England may raise rates in early 2015 had helped the Pound to appreciate to a high of 1.7191 in July against the US Dollar and 1.2875 against the Euro as recently as 1st October. As the market increasingly begins to price out imminent Bank of England rate rises the Pound trades today as low as 1.5948 against the US Dollar and as low as 1.2570 against the Euro.
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The Pound surged higher following Scotland’s decision to remain in the United Kingdom with GBP/EUR hitting a two year high at 1.2802 before falling back to 1.2706 (EUR/GBP 0.7870). GBP/USD soared to a high of 1.6523 before meeting resistance and falling back to 1.6354 and currently trades at 1.6390 in mid-morning UK trading. With the Japanese Yen performing badly this month following the Japanese government’s economic forecast downgrade the Pound hit its highest level against the Japanese Yen since October 2008, pushing GBP/JPY through 180 to a high of 180.70 before falling back to around 178 Yen to the Pound.
With the risk of Scottish independence out of the way the focus now turns back to the strength of the UK economic recovery and the timing of any rate hike from the Bank of England.
The Euro has depreciated sharply today following the European Central Bank’s (ECB) decision to cut the benchmark interest rate by another 0.10% to a new record low of 0.05%. The deposit rate was also lowered further into negative territory to -0.20%. ECB President Mario Draghi also announced the ECB will launch an asset purchase programme; buying debts from banks in a move that is hoped will add liquidity into the financial system and revive lending.
The Euro fell more than 1% against both the US Dollar and British Pound. Falling back below 1.30 against the US Dollar, hitting a low so far of 1.2969 and to a low of 0.7905 (1.2650) against the Pound. Further action including more aggressive stimulus measures such as Quantitative Easing from the ECB is still possible in the future.
The USD has appreciated overnight after minutes released by the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) showed that the US central bank was gradually taking a more hawkish stance as economic conditions (labour market and inflation) begin to normalise to levels last seen before the financial crisis.
The growing prospect of interest rate rises in the US coming sooner than expected have caused the USD to appreciate, forcing GBP/USD back below 1.66, hitting a low of 1.6565 so far and forcing the EUR down against the USD to 1.3242. Against the Yen the USD also appreciated sharply with USD/JPY hitting a high of 103.96.
The Pound depreciated further today following the release of the Bank’s Quarterly Inflation Report as markets pushed back Bank of England interest rate hike expectations well into 2015. Whilst the Bank revised UK GDP growth forecasts up to 3.5%, they highlighted heightened uncertainty regarding slack in the economy, increased global geo-political risks and the weakness of UK wage growth.
The Pound is currently trading down 0.6% @ 1.6710 against the US Dollar and down 0.75% @ 1.2478 against the Euro.
GBPAUD 1.7937 | GBPCAD 1.8241 | GBPCHF 1.5143 | GBPEUR 1.2478 | GBPJPY 171.03 | GBPUSD 1.6710.
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In an effort to encourage lending, stimulate the Eurozone economy and avoid deflation the European Central Bank (ECB) today cut its main benchmark rate from 0.25% to 0.15%. More significantly the ECB cut its deposit rate from 0.00% to minus 0.10% meaning that commericial banks will have to pay the ECB to lodge their money with the central bank in a bid to incentivise banks to lend to businesses rather than hoard cash at the ECB, therefore stimulating economic growth. The ECB also exteneded its programme of long term loans offerd to banks who lend to businesses. ECB President Mario Draghi indicated that further measures could be introduced in the future.
Following the ECB announcement and the following press conference the Euro fell from a high of 1.3643 to a low of 1.3504 before recovering to just below 1.36 by 14:00 GMT. Against the Pound the Euro fell from 0.8139 (1.2286) to a low of 0.8065 (1.2399) before appreciating back towards 0.81p by 14:00 GMT.
Elsewehere, as expected the Bank of England maintained its Bank Rate at 0.50% and the size of its Assett Purchase Programme at £375bn. We now await the minutes of that meeting due to be released 08:30 GMT on Wednesday 18th June to gain an insight into if the Bank of England is any nearer to raising UK internest rates. The Pound continues to trade between 1.67 and 1.68 against the US Dollar.
Minutes released today from the Bank of England meeting held 7-8th May 2014 show that the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) voted unaminously to maintain the Bank Rate at 0.50% and maintain the stock of purchased assets financed by the issuance of central bank reserves, known as Quantitative Easing at £375 billion. Whilst the vote was unaminous to hold rates the minutes indicated that some MPC members are beginning to think that the time may be close for an interest rate rise. The prospect of an interest rate rise makes the Pound more attractive and can be attributed to the Pound’s strong performance. Following the release of the minutes and coupled with strong UK retail sales data the Pound appreciated to a high of 1.6920 against the US Dollar and to 1.2340 against the Euro, before retracing slightly against both currencies.