Foreign Exchange - UK Weekly Update - Monday, November 26, 2007 11:54 - 0 Comments
The minutes of the Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee meeting were
released last week and the voting went as expected. Despite the 7-2 split to leave
rates on hold, being inline with market forecast, the pound slipped on the news
against all but the dollar. This indicates a generally bearish outlook for sterling and a
closer look at some of the main topics of discussion in the MPC meeting may provide
some insight into this reasoning.
Overall the indicators pointed to slowing in GDP growth in the fourth quarter and Q1
next year. There were signs in the August inflation report that growth had already
begun to slow prior to the financial market turmoil. This would be consistent with the
interest rate tightening employed to keep inflation in check. However, this is expected
to be accelerated by the recent upheaval.
An inspection of credit conditions revealed that the squeeze is finding its way through
to UK households. It was previously believed that the credit crunch would have a
limited impact, but mortgage rates are already reflecting the financial environment.
“Quoted two-year fixed rates are up five basis points since July, whereas they would
have fallen by around 30 basis points had they moved in line with their usual
relationship with interest rate swaps.” House price data has been mixed, but recent
figures certainly show a slow down.
The trouble, as mentioned in last week’s update, is that inflationary conditions
abound. Energy costs are up, oil prices are very high and the cost of food continues
So what does this mean? Well, the fixed income market has been pricing in interest
rate cuts for relatively soon and sterling fell rapidly as markets attempted to price in
the dovish outlook forecast by the November inflation report. However, this may be
too much too soon. The Bank of England chief economist Charlie Bean, in an
interview with the Liverpool Daily Post, suggested he was unlikely to vote for a
December rate cut. He emphasised the continued upside inflationary risks and
warned that the financial market uncertainty will remain for some months to come.
Therefore in our view, it is likely that fundamentals will require some loosening of the
economy over the next year and this would mean future sterling weakness. However,
during the festive period, markets are prone to volatility caused by the reduced
liquidity, and this could see a small short-term jump back for the pound especially if
the anticipated rate cuts do not materialise.
The week ahead
• The focus in the UK will be on housing data. This could halt sterling’s meagre
recovery if the data follows the soft tone of late.
• Markets will be watching US data closely as we approach the Fed’s December
interest rate meeting. The majority are looking for the FOMC to cut rates again
and we see further dollar weakness is the data is below expectation.
• In the EU, flash HICP will give a glimpse of Eurozone inflation levels in
November. This is accompanied by German Ifo and Q3 Revised E13 GDP.
These should indicate the pace of activity in the Europe and might provide a
respite from the recent EUR strength.
0207 801 9084
Currency Rates Low High Current
GBPEUR 1.3856 1.4032 1.3957
Euro continued to strengthen against dollar and sterling last week while suffering
against low yield G7 currencies. Records were once again broken as EURUSD came
within touching distance of 1.50 and GBPEUR made lows not seen for nearly 5
years. There is a lot of concern on the continent about the strength of the single
currency; both Chancellor Merkel and Euro-Group Chair Juncker have expressed
that it was no longer possible to have a ‘benign approach’ and Jean-Claude Trichet,
Head of the ECB, stated he was against ‘rapid and brutal currency moves’; he would
not however classify euro’s movement as ‘brutal’. Denmark also decided on another
referendum on whether to take up the single currency; this had a negligible impact.
GBPUSD “Cable” 2.0449 2.0762 2.0690
On a trade weighted basis the dollar has weakened to levels not seen since the
Second World War on the back of fears of a recession in the world’s largest
economy. A rate cut by Ben Bernanke’s Fed has been priced in so as to support the
greenback although fears of central bank reserve diversification will hamper efforts of
a dollar rebound. The minutes for the Fed’s October meeting were released stating
that it was a ‘close call’ on the decision to cut however they cut growth targets to
1.8% to 2.5% which only reinforced concerns over the economy.
A general unwinding of the carry trade, following dips on global equities markets hurt
commodity currencies last week
Low High Current
GBPAUD 2.2832 2.3830 2.3586
Following a general line of carry trade weakness, Aussie suffered last week. Further
falls in the price of industrial commodities didn’t help although gold prices remained
firm. There were no significant domestic economic developments during the week to
influence markets. The currency was unsettled slightly by uncertainty ahead of the
general election and an uncertain result.
GBPNZD 2.6875 2.7578 2.7301
With no substantive data released last week, NZD was once again at the behest of
the carry trade. Subsequently due to risk aversion, Kiwi weakened as funds were
repatriated to Japan. Speculators will be looking towards Wednesday morning’s
Building Permits figures and Thursday’s Money Supply and Business Confidence
measures to see whether the RBNZ’s policy of hawkishness has stymied the
GBPCAD 1.9867 2.0513 2.0513
CAD has been once again brought closer to parity over the past week due to liquidity
fears and carry trade worries. Falls in metals prices were offset somewhat by the
continuing high price of oil. Growth figures also fell below 2.0% for the first time since
the ‘credit crunch’ began as consumer prices fell 0.3% and core prices, excluding
food and energy, fell 0.2%.
Low High Current
GBPZAR 13.6726 14.50 14.47
With no domestic data last week, ZAR was biding its time ahead of a very important
week of data. Up for release this week include Q3 GDP figures which are widely
forecast to fall, strengthening the calls for interest rate cuts in the short term.
Consumer prices are due on Wednesday and with beliefs that a figure above 7.0%
the MPC will have to remain hawkish.
Please see GBPEUR comments above. EURCYP is pegged in preparation for Euro
entry and so GBPCYP moves proportionally with GBPEUR. [Update: The Cypriot
government has allowed the currency to strengthen very slightly to 0.573 against
EUR, in light of market pressure. The pair is now stable here.]
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The above comments are only our views and should not be construed as advice. You should
act using your own information and judgement. Although information has been obtained from
and is based upon multiple sources the author believes to be reliable, we do not guarantee its
accuracy and it may be incomplete or condensed. All opinions and estimates constitute the
authors own judgement as of the date of the briefing and are subject to change without notice.
Any rates given are interbank and therefore for amounts of £5million and so are not indicative
of rates offered by World First for smaller amounts.
This week’s data
FRA: 07.45 Business Climate (November) 108 107
ITL: 08.30 Business Confidence (November) 92.9 92.1
GER: 09.00 Ifo Index (November) 103.9 103.4
- Current Conditions / Expectations 109.6 / 98.6 109.1 / 97.8
US: 14.00 Case Shiller House Prices (September) -0.7% (-4.4%)
US: 15.00 Consumer Confidence (November) 95.6 91.6
POL: Rate Announcement 4.75% 5.0%
GER: 07.00 GFK Consumer Confidence 4.9 4.3
EU-13: 09.00 M3 / 3 Month Moving Average (+11.3%) / (+11.5%) (+11.4%)/(+11.4%)
US: 13.30 Durable Goods (October) -1.7% +0.0%
US: 15.00 Existing Home Sales (October) 5.04m s.a.a.r. / -8.0% 5.0m
US: 19.00 Fed Beige Book
JPN: 23.50 Industrial Production (October) -1.4% +1.7%
CZE CNB Rate Announcement 3.25% 3.25%
UK: 07.00 Nationwide House Prices (November) +1.1% (+9.7%)
FRA: 07.45 Consumer Confidence (November) -22 -24
SP: 08.00 Flash HICP (November) (+3.6%) (+3.9%)
GER: 09.00 Unemployment (November) -40,000 / 8.7% -30,000 / 8.6%
ITL: 09.00 PPI (October) +0.5% (+3.5%) +0.4% (+3.6%)
UK: 09.30 Mortgage Applications (October) 102,000 97,000
UK: 11.00 CBI Distributive Trades Balance 10 8
US: 13.30 GDP (Q3 Revised) +3.9% s.a.a.r. (p) +4.8%
- Deflator +0.7% +0.8%
US: 13.30 Initial Jobless Claims (w/e 24th 330,000 332,000
US: 15.00 New Home Sales (October) 0.77m s.a.a.r. / 4.8% 0.75m
JPN: 23.30 Core CPI – National (Oct) / Tokyo (Nov) (-0.1%) / (0.0%) (+0.0%) / (+0.1%)
JPN: 23.30 Unemployment / Job:Applicants 4.0% / 1.05 4.0% / 1.05
EU-13: 10.00 EC Business Climate (November) 0.87 0.78
EU-13: 10.00 EC Economic Sentiment (November) 105.9 105.0
- Consumer / Industrial Sentiment -6 / 2 -7 / 1
EU-13: 10.00 GDP (Q3 Revised) +0.7% (+2.6%) (p) +0.7% (+2.6%)
EU-13: 10.00 HICP Flash (November) (+2.6%) (+2.7%)
ITL: 10.00 Prelim CPI (November) +0.3% (+2.1%) +0.3% (+2.3%)
UK: 10.30 Gfk Consumer Confidence (November) -8 -9
US: 13.30 Personal Income / Consumption (October) +0.4% / +0.3% +0.4% / +0.3%
US: 14.45 Chicago PMI (November) 49.7 50.3
US: 15.00 Construction Spending (October) 0.3% -0.2%
Bull/Bullish: one who thinks a market, currency or asset will appreciate
Bear/Bearish: one who thinks a market, currency or asset will depreciate
Pip: the fifth significant figure of a currency price: 1.2345
Big figure: the third significant figure of a currency price: 1.2345
Basis point: a 0.01% unit
Tightening (Interest Rates): raising interest rates (loosening is opposite)
Hawkish: comments that suggest interest rate tightening i.e. moving higher
Dovish: comments that suggest interest rate loosening i.e. moving lower
MPC: Monetary Policy Committee, the body that sets UK interest rates
ECB: European Central Bank, the body that sets the Eurozone interest rate
RBA: Reserve Bank of Australia: the central bank of Australia.
Cross-Currency Pair Flow: Where a set of three interlinked rates, e.g. GBPEUR, EURUSD and
GBPUSD, move as any combination of two of these rates must produce the third in order to satisfy a
condition known as No Arbitrage. If there are movements in two markets, then the third must move
deterministically. Also knows as triangulation.
Carry Trade: Simply put, is the borrowing of money in a low interest economy (Japan) and investing it in
a higher yield economy (Australia). This yields a certain profit unless the interest rate differential
narrows, or the exchange rate moves such that it costs more to buy the currency back.
Fair Value- Also called financial fair value: A measure of the theoretical exchange rate using certain
Macroeconomic models (such as eCIP).
Underlying Inflation: A somewhat academic measure of long-term inflation- removing all the’
interesting’ elements like energy and luxury consumption leaving the ‘boring’ elements like utility bills
and food. [Quotes from BoE governor Mervyn King]
Interest Rate Traction: Although there is a group of people who announce an interest rate, it has to feed
through the economy through some very complex and poorly understood channels. Once rate hikes are
having an effect on inflation and long term yields it is said that they are finding traction with the
Unemployment rate: The percentage of people who are able and ‘willing’ to work (ie in the labour
force) who are not employed.
Participation rate: The percentage of the population of working age in the labour force.