The Pound has depreciated this morning (22/06/11) following the release of the latest minutes from the Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee (MPC). The minutes indicated that the Bank of England is less likely to raise interest rates this year, which makes Sterling less attractive to investors seeking higher yielding currencies*.
The minutes show that out of the nine MPC members only two members voted for an interest rate hike, whilst seven members voted to keep interest rates unchanged at their record low for the 27th consecutive month. This was a change from the previous MPC meeting in May when three members had voted for a rate hike. The changing makeup of the MPC since Andrew Sentance’s departure after May’s meeting and the appointment of Ben Broadbent, who voted for a hold in June, points to a more dovish MPC. Andrew Sentance was consistently the most hawkish member of the MPC, being the first member to call for a 0.25% rate hike consistently since June 2010 and voting for a 0.50% hike at the last four meetings.
Whilst the Bank of England kept its Quantitative Easing Asset Purchase Programme on hold at £200 billion, the idea of further Quantitative Easing was floated by some members should the downside risks to inflation realise, further undermining Sterling’s value.
In the Eurozone, the Greek government won a critical vote of confidence, paving the way for the next crucial vote in which MPs will be asked to approve a €28 billion package of tax increases and spending cuts by June 28th. Laws implementing the reforms will need to be passed before the next extraordinary meeting of Eurozone finance ministers on the 3rd July in order to secure the next tranche of €12 billion of the EU and IMF’s €110 billion bailout package. It is essential for Greece to receive the €12 billion emergency loan in order to keep up with payments to her creditors totalling €340 billion. Without the €12 billion needed for Greece to make its debt repayments, Greece will likely default.
This evening the US Federal Reserve will announce its latest interest rate decision. Interest rates are expected to stay unchanged at their current level of 0-0.25%. However, tonight’s meeting also coincides with the expiry of the Federal Reserve’s current Quantitative Easing programme. The following press conference will be analysed for any suggestions of further Quantitative Easing in the future.
Currently Sterling is looking particularly vulnerable and further falls cannot be ruled out. Ongoing uncertainty surrounding the global economic recovery and the sovereign debt crisis in Europe means it is likely we will continue to see high levels of volatility in the foreign exchange market. Please do not hesitate to contact the dealing team for further information or to discuss how best to eliminate currency risk.
*Comparative World Interest Rates
Bank of Japan: 0.1%
Federal Reserve (USA): 0.25%
Swiss National Bank: 0.25%
Bank of England: 0.5%
Bank of Canada: 1%
European Central Bank: 1.25%
The Reserve Bank of Australia: 4.75%
People’s Bank of China: 6.06%