Tag Archives: UK

United Kingdom: Sterling Strength

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.

Pound Hit by Bank of England Quarterly Inflation Report

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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Currency Matters

Stock markets across Europe and America have fallen as shares in one of Portugal’s largest banks were suspended after falling more than 17% after reports that their parent company missed some short term debt repayments, a reminder that the European banking crisis may not be over.

With US interest rates set to stay near zero this year and the market looking for safe havens the Japanese Yen appreciated sharply, forcing USD/JPY from a high of 101.66 to 101.07 before recovering slightly to 101.18, still down 0.42%. The Euro has fallen but has remained surprisingly resilient, falling against the USD from 1.3649 and currently trading at 1.3597 but could be susceptible to further falls should confidence in the Portuguese banking system and the wider Eurozone continue to deteriorate.

In the UK, the Pound is relatively steady after the Bank of England voted to maintain the Bank Rate at 0.50% and maintain its asset purchases at £375bn. GBP/USD has traded between 1.7106 and 1.7122. GBP/EUR has appreciated from 1.2551 this morning currently at a high of 1.2595.

GBP Higher Following Bank of England Minutes

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.

http://www.bankofengland.co.uk/publications/minutes/Documents/mpc/pdf/2014/mpc1405.pdf

 

EUR & AUD Spike Higher

Today as expected, both the Bank of England and the European Central Bank kept their key interest rates on hold at 0.50% and 0.25% respectively. The Bank of England also kept its Quantitative Easing Asset Purchase Facility on hold at £375bn.

In the following ECB press conference, ECB President Mario Draghi surprised the markets with his upbeat comments regarding Eurozone inflation and growth. Inflation is expected to climb from February’s 0.8% to 1.0% by the end of the year, 1.3% in 2015 and 1.7% in Q4 of 2016. Growth forecast was revised up to 1.2% in 2014. For 2015, growth is projected to be 1.5% and 1.8% for 2016.

As a result the Euro has made notable gains against the US Dollar and the British Pound. EURUSD appreciated from a daily low of 1.3722, hitting a high of 1.3858, and currently trades at 1.3843 (0.81%). Whilst EURGBP appreciated from 0.8207 (1.2185), to 0.8287 (1.2067), and currently trades at 0.8274 (+0.76%).

Elsewhere, the Australian dollar appreciated sharply today on better than expected economic data. Australian retail sales rose by 1.2% month on month and the trade surplus widened to AUD 1.43bn.

As a result AUDUSD appreciated from 0.8973 to a high of 0.9091 and the Pound depreciated by 2 cents against the Australian Dollar from 1.8624 to a low of 1.8407.

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BoE and ECB Hold Interest Rates

The Euro continues to remain under pressure following concerns that the Eurozone risks a period of deflation and prolonged low interest rates. The official Eurozone inflation rate released on Tuesday confirmed that Eurozone inflation fell from 0.90% in November to 0.80% in December.

As expected, the ECB held interest rates at their record low of 0.25%. In the post meeting press conference, ECB President Mario Draghi commented that he expected key ECB interest rates will remain at present or lower levels for an extended period of time. Draghi also warned that the Eurozone may experience a prolonged period of low inflation and that risks on economic outlook remain on the downside.
As a result the Euro depreciated against the US Dollar hitting a low of 1.3548 and depreciated against the British Pound hitting a low of 0.8231 (GBPEUR 1.2149).

In the UK, the Bank of England kept its interest rate at 0.50% where they have been held since March 2009 and maintained its Quantitative Easing Asset Purchased Programme at £375bn. The Bank only released a brief statement and issued no further guidance. Back in August, Governor Mark Carney said unemployment would have to decline to 7% before an interest rate rise would be considered. An improved economy has meant that this could happen sooner than expected. The majority of economists still do not expect UK rate rises before mid-2015, however, expectations are mounting that the Bank of England could start to raise interest rates in 2014.

The Pound continues to trade near recent highs (1.6604 02/01/14) against the US Dollar at 1.6441-1.6498 and has so far hit a high of 1.2149 against the Euro.

ECB Rate Cut

The Pound has surged a cent higher against the Euro today following today’s decisions from the Bank of England and the European Central Bank. The Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee voted to maintain interest rates at 0.50% and its Quantitative Easing Asset Purchase Programme at £375bn whereas the European Central Bank voted to cut their interest rate by 0.25% from 0.50% to 0.25% resulting in a Sterling interest rate differential advantage of 0.25%.

GBPEUR hit a high of 1.2045 from an earlier low of 1.1890 before falling back to 1.1980. The Euro also fell against the US Dollar with EURUSD falling from a high of 1.3528 to a low of 1.3296 before recovering back above 1.33 and currently trading at 1.3365. The Pound is down against the USD from a high of 1.6089, hitting a low of 1.6010 before recovering slightly and currently trading at 1.6025.

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BOE Minutes: MPC Votes 9-0 In Favour to Keep rates & QE Unchanged at July Meeting

The Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) voted unanimously to keep rates on hold and against further Quantitative Easing in July. Some MPC members, however, said more stimulus was warranted but they wanted to look at alternative means of providing it. “An expansion of the asset purchase programme remained one means of injecting stimulus, but the Committee would be investigating other options during the month, and it was therefore sensible not to
initiate an expansion at this meeting,” the minutes said. New Governor Mark Carney therefore obviously voted to keep rates and QE on hold.

As a result the Pound spiked higher against the USD jumping from 1.5128 at 09:25 to 1.5245 just after 09:30. The pound also spiked higher against the Euro hitting a high of 1.1580.

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Bank of England maintains Bank Rate at 0.5% and the size of the Asset Purchase Programme at £375 billion

The Pound has fallen sharply following today’s statement from the Bank of England. The Bank warned that “in the Committee’s view, the implied rise in the expected future path of Bank Rate was not warranted by the recent developments in the domestic economy”. The Bank’s statement immediately scaled back market expectations of a rate rise from the Bank and with UK interest rates expected to remain low for a prolonged period of time the Pound has fallen markedly. Against the Euro the Pound has fallen from an earlier high of 1.1751 to 1.1585 and against the US Dollar the Pound has fallen from 1.5288 to 1.5075.

Bank of England Statement
http://www.bankofengland.co.uk/publications/Pages/news/2013/007.aspx
The Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee today voted to maintain the official Bank Rate paid on commercial bank reserves at 0.5%. The Committee also voted to maintain the stock of asset purchases financed by the issuance of central bank reserves at £375 billion.
Since the May Inflation Report, market interest rates have risen sharply internationally and asset prices have been volatile. In the United Kingdom, there have been further signs that a recovery is in train, although it remains weak by historical standards and a degree of slack is expected to persist for some time. Twelve-month CPI inflation rose to 2.7% in May and is set to rise further in the near term. Further out, inflation should fall back towards the 2% target as external price pressures fade and a revival in productivity growth curbs domestic cost pressures.

At its meeting today, the Committee noted that the incoming data over the past couple of months had been broadly consistent with the central outlook for output growth and inflation contained in the May Report. The significant upward movement in market interest rates would, however, weigh on that outlook; in the Committee’s view, the implied rise in the expected future path of Bank Rate was not warranted by the recent developments in the domestic economy.

The latest remit letter to the MPC from the Chancellor had requested that the Committee provide an assessment, alongside its August Inflation Report, of the case for adopting some form of forward guidance, including the possible use of intermediate thresholds. This analysis would have an important bearing on the Committee’s policy discussions in August.

In the light of these considerations, the Committee voted to maintain the size of its programme of asset purchases financed by the issuance of central bank reserves at £375 billion. The Committee also voted to maintain Bank Rate at 0.5%.

The minutes of the meeting will be published at 9.30am on Wednesday 17 July.

UK Inflation Falls and Takes Pound With it

As expected this morning UK inflation figures fell, even lower than what the markets had been expecting. UK Consumer Price Index fell to 2.4%, down from 2.8% the previous month and below market expectations of 2.6%. UK Core Consumer price index was also down 40 basis points to 2.0%, recording a figure below market expectations of 2.3%. UK Producer Price Index and UK PPI Core Output were also down at 1.1% and 0.8% respectively.

In what was a rather busy morning in terms of UK data releases, nearly every piece of economic data released concerning the UK economy was negative. As would be expected Sterling fell right across the board following these inflation figures’ release. GBP/EUR fell to a daily low of 1.1777 however remained within the approximate 1.5 cent range that the pair has been trading within for the last month. Similarly Cable fell to a daily low of 1.5163, continuing the pairs decline since early May with a further test of the 1.5157 level now likely and should this break the next area of substantial support being found at 1.5127.

Much earlier this morning we saw the Japanese Yen return to its depreciating ways following Japanese Economy Minister Akira Amari’s much more coy response regarding the potential end to the Yen’s slide against the Dollar. This comes after the Yen strengthened yesterday following the economy minister’s comment that suggested further weakening of the Yen may adversely impact upon Japanese people. The bank of Japan’s record monetary stimulus program would now appear to be having the desired effect that Japanese finance ministers had initially hoped it would. Figures released in Tokyo last week showed that Japanese GDP rose to an annualized 3.5%, suggesting that the Bank of Japan’s efforts to end a decade of inflation are actually having a positive impact on the economy. This increase in money supply has had the inevitable, yet “unintentional”, effect of depreciating the Yen, which rose to above USD/JPY 100.00 two weeks ago for the first time in over four years, and has consequently lead to a boost in exports. Data released so far suggests that BoJ Governor Haruhik Kuroda may actually be able to reach his ambitious target of reaching 2.0% inflation in just two years. USD/JPY is currently trading at 102.68 and speculation will now grow as to whether the pair will reach 105.00.

With very little data due out this afternoon, trader’s attention is likely to turn to tomorrow where we will see a number of key releases. In the early hours of tomorrow morning the Bank of Japan is set to make their interest rate decision and monetary policy statement, potentially giving the market an indication of how long their extremely loose monetary policy will continue. Moving back westwards, later tomorrow morning UK BoE minutes will be released, followed by the US FOMC minutes tomorrow evening. As Sir Mervyn King comes to the end of his tenure as governor of the BoE, it is unlikely that we will see any drastic information released in the BoE minutes, however the market will be keen to see if the FOMC minutes or Fed Governor Ben Bernanke’s press conference give any indication as to when a reduction in the Federal Reserve’s bond buying program will be brought to an end.