Tag Archives: US

The Pound has remained stable …

The Pound has remained stable following the release of July’s Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) minutes, trading at 1.13 against the Euro and at 1.61 against the US Dollar on the interbank market.

The minutes showed that the MPC remains split, with 7 members voting to keep interest rates unchanged at 0.50% whilst 2 members, Mr Spencer Dale and Dr Martin Weale called for a 0.25% hike. Dr Adam Posen remains the most dovish member of the MPC calling for a £50bn increase to the Bank’s £200bn Quantitative Easing Asset Purchase Programme. Most MPC members admitted that recent events had reduced the likelihood of any near term tightening to monetary policy. However, thankfully for Sterling, the majority of MPC members made no explicit reference to further Quantitative Easing.

The market will now focus on the ongoing European Sovereign debt crisis and the European Finance Ministers meeting and the continuing negotiations in the US Congress to increase the US debt ceiling.

Sterling falls following dovish Bank of England

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%

Brazil: 12.25%

Interest Rates

Today (07/04/11) as expected the European Central Bank (ECB) has raised its benchmark interest rate by 0.25% to 1.25%, the first such increase since July 2008. The Bank of England has kept interest rates on hold for the 25th month at their historic low of 0.5% and the Bank’s Quantitative Easing Asset Purchase Programme remains at £200bn.

 The focus will now shift to the release of the minutes (due 20th April) of today’s BoE Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting to see if any further MPC members have been swayed to the rate hike camp. At the previous meeting in March, six members voted to keep rates on hold whilst three members voted for an increase in interest rates. The conflict between above target inflation coupled with weak economic growth making the Bank’s decision difficult. The market will also seek further clarity on the future direction of ECB interest rates as there had been some suggestions that the hike today may be the first of a gradual increase in ECB interest rates.

Typically, as a central bank increases interest rates their currency will appreciate as global investors seek a higher yielding currency. The widening interest rate differential between the BoE and ECB has been a major contributing factor to Sterling’s relative weakness against the Euro despite the ongoing European sovereign debt crisis.

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%

Brazil: 11.75%

Stronger than expected UK PMI Services data

Sterling has spiked higher today (05/04/11) following the release of stronger than expected Purchasing Manager Index (PMI) Services data. The PMI Services data is an indicator of the economic situation in the UK service sector. The reading of 57.1 was better than the expected reading of 52.5 and better than the previous reading of 52.6. A reading above 50 signals expansion, whilst a reading below 50 signals a contraction in the UK service sector.

This week sees a raft of economic data releases and announcements. Later today the minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee are released which should give an insight into future US monetary policy. On Thursday both the Bank of England (BoE) and the European Central Bank (ECB) are set to announce their latest interest rate decision. The BoE is expected to keep interest rates on hold at their current historic low of 0.5% whilst the ECB is widely expected to hike rates. It is the expectation of rate hikes from the ECB which has contributed to recent relative Euro strength despite the ongoing sovereign debt crisis facing the Eurozone.

The Pound is up on the interbank market against the Euro at 1.14 and up against the US Dollar at 1.62. Please note the rate you are able to achieve will depend on the amount of currency being purchased, please do not hesitate to contact the dealing team on +44 (0) 1695 581 669 for a live quote.

Currency Matters

 The US Dollar has continued to fall following Tuesday’s meeting of the Federal Reserve. At the meeting the Federal Reserve kept interest rates on hold at 0.00-0.25% and kept quantitative easing at current levels. However, the Federal Reserve opened the door to the possibility of additional quantitative easing indicating that it would be prepared to provide additional accommodation if needed to support a fragile economic recovery.

 On the interbank market GBPUSD currently trades above 1.56 whilst EURUSD trades at 1.33.

 In the UK, Sterling has come under some downward pressure following the release of recent disappointing economic data including poor retail sales and higher than expected government borrowing, which totalled £15.3 billion in August. The Bank of England Minutes released this week showed that the Monetary Policy Committee voted to keep both interest rates on hold at 0.5% and its Quantitative Easing Asset Purchase Scheme at £200 billion. The minutes made no clear indication that further Quantitative Easing (Q.E.) would be needed however many analysts interpreted that the chances of further Q.E. had increased since the previous meeting. The Bank of England remains torn between trying to support a fragile economic recovery, whilst trying to anchor inflation which remains stubbornly above the 2% target.

 As a result of the above, extreme volatility has been seen in the GBPEUR exchange rate, yesterday hitting its lowest level since May before recovering slightly today. The current GBPEUR interbank rate trades at 1.17.

 Given current market volatility, please do not hesitate to contact Currency Matters to discuss any foreign currency exchange requirement. Currency Matters can provide a number of products including Forward Contracts and Stop Loss/Limit Orders which can help you manage your foreign currency exchange risk. The exchange rates mentioned in the above blog are based on the current interbank rate. Please do not hesitate to contact the dealing team on +44 (0) 1695 581 669 for a live quote.

Bank of England

The Bank of England has today kept UK interest rates on hold at 0.5% and the Bank’s current asset purchase scheme known as quantitative easing also remains on hold at £200 billion.

The Pound continues to look firm against the US Dollar trading above 1.58 on the interbank market and against the Euro the pound trades near 1.20.

The market will now await the European Central Bank announcement later today and on Friday the latest US employment data will be released.

Please do not hesitate to contact Currency Matters for a live quote. Please note the exchange rate you are able to achieve will depend on the amount being exchanged.

Currency Update

Risk appetite has returned to the market today as the latest GDP figures from the US suggest that the US is out of recession. The US GDP figures released earlier today beat market expectations with an annualised rate of 3.5% vs 3.2% expected. Whilst these figures are positive it remains to be seen how sustainable these levels of growth are, especially after the massive government stimulus has finished working itself through the economy.

The following improvement in confidence has led to safe haven currencies such as the USD and JPY coming under downward pressure.

Sterling has advanced through Interbank GBPUSD 1.65 and through Interbank GBPEUR 1.1100.

Expect plenty of volatility as we enter November as sentiment remains fickle. Both the Bank of England and the European Central Bank meet on November 5th. Analysts will be especially keen to see if the Bank of England extends its Quantitative Easing program and if so by how much. Some economists suggest that we could see an extension by as much as £50B but the consensus seems to suggest an extension of £25B is the most likely outcome.

Currency Matters can offer a number of products and strategies which help you manage your currency risk. Please contact the dealing team for more information.