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
The US Dollar (USD) gained overnight as the Federal Reserve kept rates near zero and sounded more optimistic on the economy whilst maintaining their pledge to be patient on increasing interest rates. The Dollar appreciated against the Euro and the Pound forcing EUR/USD to a low of 1.2266 and GBP/USD to 1.5551.
In Europe, the Swiss Franc (CHF) has depreciated sharply today as the Swiss National Bank (SNB) introduced negative rates to try and stem the rise of the Franc pushing EUR/CHF from 1.2009 to a high of 1.2097 before settling around 1.2045. The US Dollar also gained against the Franc with USD/CHF appreciating from 0.9722 to 0.9846.
The Swiss National Bank (SNB) has intervened in the market this morning announcing that they will set a floor to the value of the Swiss Franc (CHF) against the Euro at EURCHF 1.20.
‘The current massive overvaluation of the Swiss franc poses an acute threat to the Swiss economy and carries the risk of a deflationary development. The Swiss National Bank (SNB) is therefore aiming for a substantial and sustained weakening of the Swiss franc. With immediate effect, it will no longer tolerate a EUR/CHF exchange rate below the minimum rate of CHF 1.20. The SNB will enforce this minimum rate with the utmost determination and is prepared to buy foreign currency in unlimited quantities. Even at a rate of CHF 1.20 per euro, the Swiss franc is still high and should continue to weaken over time. If the economic outlook and deflationary risks so require, the SNB will take further measures.’
On the interbank market EURCHF has appreciated from 1.10 to above 1.20. GBPCHF has appreciated past 1.36, whilst USDCHF trades above 0.84.
Elsewhere, EURUSD trades between 1.41-1.42, EURGBP trades at 0.88 (GBPEUR 1.1364) and GBPUSD trades at 1.61.