Sterling Down on May Brexit Warnings

May resorts to rehashing old threats after failed Salzburg meeting

Theresa May took to the podium on Friday in an attempt to hit back at the EU after she was humiliated in Salzburg in what was meant to be a positive meeting ahead of the Tory Party Conference.

While May will be desperate for the takeaway from the speech to be that the UK is serious in its no deal threats and the EU should take their proposal seriously and resume dialogue based on the government’s Chequers plan or risk such an outcome, the speech itself was nothing but a stern rehash of what has been said in the past. As ever, these talks are showing themselves to be a frustrating and soul destroying game of chicken among a group of officials that agree that no deal is a bad outcome but are determined to drag them out in the hope of slightly better terms.

The pound came under pressure in the lead up to May’s speech and that continued during and in the aftermath, with traders potentially seeing this as a sign that no deal is a real and increasingly likely outcome. That may be exactly the message May wanted to send to the media, her party – particularly the Brexiteers – and the EU but I do not believe it changes anything. A fudged 11th hour deal that kicks the can down the road on the toughest decisions still remains the most likely outcome and I do not believe the appetite exists on either side for no deal that makes it as likely as we’re being led to believe.

GBPUSD Daily Chart

EURGBP Daily Chart

GBPJPY Daily Chart

GBPCAD Daily Chart

For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.

Live FX analysis – 18 September 2018 (Video)

Senior Market Analyst Craig Erlam discusses the key market themes from the summer – most notably US tariffs and Brexit – and the events to watch out for this week.

Craig also gives his live analysis on EURUSD (17:48), GBPUSD (21:36), EURGBP (24:42), AUDUSD (25:44), USDCAD (28:33), GBPCAD (31:02), NZDUSD (32:41), USDJPY (34:16), GBPJPY (35:25) and EURJPY (36:31).

GBP Dives on Dovish BoE Hike

Profit taking seen as MPC doesn’t combine hike with hawkish rhetoric

Sterling tumbled on Thursday after the Bank of England raised interest rates by 0.25% to a post-financial crisis high.

The hike, which was initially planned for May prior to the first quarter slowdown, has not come without it criticism due to the mixed data, temporary factors driving some numbers and the uncertain outlook, associated with Brexit. It was, however, almost fully priced into the markets with investors correctly drawing on the central bank’s previous views on the labour market and deafening silence as market rates rose in the run up to the meeting.

With markets pricing in more than a 90% probability of a hike prior to the meeting, it left little room for confirmation of it to have an impact. While this did come in the immediate aftermath of the hike, the lack of any apparent hawkish language alongside it or warning that more hikes will follow in the near-term appears to have triggered some profit taking on those pre-meeting positions and possibly even stops being hit after that.

BoE hike a close call

Will hike be seen as brave or stupid come March?

The result is that, despite an initial rally, the pound plummeted shortly after falling back towards 1.30 against the dollar, 145 against the yen and 1.12 against the euro (or 0.89 for EURGBP). The central bank once very keen to emphasise though that rate increases were likely to be gradual and limited, citing market expectations of three over the next three years, while also stressing the uncertain influence of Brexit, despite it assuming a smooth transition in its forecasts. All of this lacked the hawkishness that traders were obviously hoping for which aided the decline in the pound.

I think it’s clear that the BoE could have held off on the decision today until it had more certainty on Brexit – maybe even by November – and avoided the possibility that it will have to do an embarrassing u-turn in the near future. That said, it backed itself into a corner earlier this year and clearly decided it’s a risk worth taking and should negotiations take a turn for the better and the economic data improve as a result, we could look back on this as a brave and calculated move that set us on a path towards policy normalisation.

AUD/USD slides despite jump in trade surplus

Economic Calendar

For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.

BoE Super Thursday to live up to its name

Surely they won’t bottle it again, right?

Super Thursday promises to live up to its name one way or another this week, as the Bank of England either raises interest rates to post-financial crisis highs or risks causing unnecessary and significant market volatility.

  • Rate hike priced in but not guaranteed
  • Possible scenarios on Thursday
  • Key things to look out for

It’s been an unusual lead up to a central bank meeting, in that despite a lack of clear and specific warning signals, the likes of which we’ve become accustomed to, investors have become absolutely convinced it’s happening.

In fact, markets are now pricing in almost a 90% chance that the Monetary Policy Committee will vote to hike rates on Thursday. If the central bank doesn’t hike now, it will need a very good excuse and even then, this entire process of forward guidance will once again be heavily criticized.

BoE Interest Rate Probabilities

Source – Thomson Reuters Eikon

While it may not make much sense to blame the central bank when I’ve earlier stated that there’s been a lack of clear and specific warning signals, but policy makers are very aware of what market expectations are and when they deviate in such a significant way from reality, they do something about it. This time they have not.

This is where assumptions come into it. The lack of alternative guidance from policy makers has actually fuelled expectations that they must be planning a rate hike or they would have otherwise intervened to realign expectations.

Head fake or breakthrough ??

Remember, investors are always looking for subtle hints in order to get ahead of the curve and in this case, the central bank’s silence has been deafening. Or so investors hope. Should the MPC not deviate much from last month’s vote and hold off again, there could be a sizeable response in the markets, particularly in the pound and short-term UK debt.

Whichever way the central bank goes – and just to be clear, I think they will raise rates – there could be a very interesting response in the markets. These are some of the possible outcomes.

Dovish hike

In this scenario, it would be natural to think that this would be bullish for the pound and, in the immediate aftermath it could be. But if markets are already largely pricing this in then what exactly is left?

A rate hike that is accompanied by dovish language and cautious approach on the economy, or even wait and see approach to Brexit negotiations, could quickly trigger some profit taking by those who have anticipated such a move prior to the meeting and be bearish for the pound not long after the announcement.

EURGBP Daily Chart

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Hawkish hike

This is probably the most bullish feasible outcome for the pound. In this scenario, the BoE raises interest rates and warns that more will follow, maybe even a couple by the end of next year (more is of course possible but maybe not realistic given how the economy is right now and the uncertainty linked to Brexit).

In this case, the BoE is likely opting to look through Brexit or using base case assumptions on it – due to the sheer number of unknowns still – and base its views purely on the economic data, some of which is very good (unemployment, job openings, inflation) and some of which isn’t great (wages, investment, household debt).

GBPUSD Daily Chart

No hike

I don’t think this is likely (although it is arguably what the central bank should be doing) but it’s possible. Under this scenario, the central bank takes all of the recent data into consideration and takes the view that, given the uncertain outcome of Brexit negotiations and possibility of no deal, it makes more sense to wait until November to raise rates.

A few months is not a long time to wait but by then, they should be a lot better positioned to judge what the outcome of Brexit negotiations will be and whether it’s risky or not to be raising rates in such an environment, or what the chance is that it will be reversing course in the near-future, to its own embarrassment.

Of course, the argument against this is that there has been no noise coming from the central bank that market expectations are out of sync with their own which is usually a reliable sign that they are not.

GBPCAD Daily Chart

What to look out for

All things considered, a rate hike looks likely but there is going to be a number of elements of tomorrow’s event that will influence how markets respond.

Fed decision and US labour market in focus

The interest rate decision is the most obvious (12pm UK time) but alongside the release, we’ll get the minutes from the meeting, voting and the inflation report which contains new growth and inflation forecasts for the coming years, which will effectively determine how many hikes we’ll see.

This will then be followed by a press conference with Carney and his colleagues 30 minutes later which is never a dull event and certainly won’t be if the central bank once again bottles it.

Live FX Market Analysis – 24 July 2018

In this week’s FX webinar, Senior Market Analyst Craig Erlam discusses the latest events that are moving financial markets – Trump attacks the Fed, Brexit plans widely criticized etc – and previews the week ahead.

Craig also gives his live analysis on EURUSD (9:22), GBPUSD (11:48), EURGBP (18:45), AUDUSD (19:34), USDCAD (21:04), GBPCAD (22:14), NZDUSD (23:31), USDJPY (24:38), GBPJPY (27:41) and EURJPY (29:09).

Investors turn risk-averse on tariff war escalation

US announces list of next tariff targets

The US close was looking hunky dory, with equity markets aiming for a higher close as there appeared to be a lull in trade war rhetoric, once the first salvos had been fired last weekend. Then BOOM! Headlines that the US was set to announce the list of the next $200 billion worth of Chinese goods targeted for a 10% tariff hit the wires. Once the contents of the list were known, the sour tone intensified as a general risk-averse mood permeated through markets during the Asian session.

News reports say the list runs to more than 200 pages and refers to goods from TV components, food products, tobacco, raw materials and even badger hair! The tariffs are scheduled to be implemented after public consultations end on August 30. Bloomberg also notes that China only imports about $136 billion worth of US goods, so it could be interesting to see how countermeasures match up. The only reaction from China so far has been from the Ministry of Commerce which stated the latest round of tariffs interferes with the globalization of the world economy and harms the WTO trade order. It reiterated that cooperation is the only correct choice for US-China relations, though vowed to roll out a response.

When the going gets tough, the tough get going

Equities and yuan suffer

In reaction, the Nikkei225 fell up to 1.86% while China shares slumped as much as 2.76%, as investors once again tried to gauge the true impact on the Chinese economy and companies. In the currency space, the yen was bid, rising 0.69% versus the AUD, 0.07% versus the EUR and 0.05% against the pound. It did, however fail to gain ground against the dollar. The offshore yuan was under pressure the whole session, falling as much as 0.63% versus the dollar to hit 6.69190.

NOTE: Last time the offshore yuan weakened through 6.70, on July 3, the PBOC stepped up its comments on the tools it has to adjust policy

Aussie data ignored

Australian data releases were generally positive. The Westpac consumer confidence index jumped 3.9% in July, home loans rebounded in May, signaling the first growth in six months while home loans for investment purposes fell a less-than-expected 0.1%. The good data couldn’t help the local dollar which was caught up in the broader risk-averse trade. AUD/USD is down 0.72% at 0.7405 having failed to penetrate the 0.75 handle in the previous two sessions.

AUD/USD Daily Chart

Source: Oanda fxTrade

Bank of Canada decision on the radar

The highlight of today’s data calendar will likely be the Bank of Canada rate decision where market consensus is that the central bank will hike rates for the first time in four meetings as it seeks to close the rate gap with the Fed. Expectations are for a 25bps increase to 1.50%. The press conference will be monitored for hints on future guidance on rate trajectory. USD/CAD is currently at 1.31366.

Bank of Canada Expected to Hike on Wednesday

Other data bites include speeches from ECB’s Draghi, Praet and Mersch, US producer prices for June and wholesale inventories for May. Speeches continue later in the day with BOE’s Carney and Fed’s Bostic and Williams all on tap.

You can access the full data calendar on MarketPulse at https://www.marketpulse.com/economic-events/

Oanda Live FX Market Analysis

Live FX Market Analysis – 10 July 2018 (Video)

In this week’s webinar, Senior Market Analyst Craig Erlam discussed the latest Brexit developments as two members of her team resign after an apparently united and productive meeting on Friday. He also talks Trump, after the latest imposition of trade tariffs and ahead of his trip to the UK and the NATO summit, and previews the week ahead.

Craig also gives his live analysis on EURUSD (12:20), GBPUSD (15:03), EURGBP (17:50), AUDUSD (19:35), USDCAD (24:12), GBPCAD (26:19), NZDUSD (28:31), USDJPY (30:22), GBPJPY (32:25) and EURJPY (34:52).

GBP/USD – British pound steady on modest GDP growth

USD/JPY – Japanese yen dips to 7-week low, inflation reports next

Commodities Weekly: Gold saved by dollar’s retracement

GBP/JPY – Bearish Breakout Ahead of Jobs Data and BoE

OANDA Senior Market Analyst Craig Erlam talks to Core Finance about the recent bearish break in GBPJPY and whether it signals more pain ahead. He also previews the UK jobs data and Bank of England inflation report hearing and what they could mean for interest rates this year.

USD/JPY – Japanese Yen Edges Lower as Japanese Manufacturing PMI Dips

BoE Hearing and Fed Minutes in Focus

DAX Under Pressure, Investors Eye Fed Minutes

BoE Hearing and Fed Minutes in Focus

US Futures Continue to Pare Last Week’s Gains

US equity markets are expected to open in the red again on Wednesday, tracking losses in Europe as stocks continue to pare last week’s strong rebound.

It’s been a relatively quiet start to the morning and the week, with the bank holiday in the US and Canada contributing to this. The European session has been dominated by economic data releases so far and that’s likely to continue, with flash manufacturing and services data due from the US shortly after the open. It’s the FOMC minutes that will be released later in the day though that will likely be the standout event from a US perspective, particularly as the statement caused quite a stir at the end of January.

US Yield Curve Now (Orange) and on 29 January 2018 (Purple)

Source – Thomson Reuters Eikon

The sell-off in the markets may have come a couple of days later but part of the initial trigger was a more hawkish sounding Fed, with the jobs report then being the straw that broke the camel’s back two days later. While the minutes may not generate quite the same response, traders will likely monitor what they say very closely for signs that policy makers are now leaning more towards three to four rate hikes this year, rather than two or three.

EUR/USD – Euro Ticks Lower as German Manufacturing PMI Softens

GBP Slips as Unemployment Ticks Higher

Sterling is coming under a bit of pressure this morning after UK jobs data for the three months to December showed wages still growing at a moderate pace and unemployment ticking up to 4.4%. While a higher reading on wage growth may have triggered a more bullish response from the pound, the data turned out to be quite insignificant as it’s unlikely to change the views at the Bank of England.

UK Unemployment Rate

Wages have been slowly ticking higher recently and they could continue to do so as workers demand more due to the higher cost of living and a tight labour market. The move higher in the unemployment rate won’t be a concern at this moment with it potentially being a one-off move and still very low. As long as inflation remains at upper range of what is deemed acceptable, the central bank seems intent on raising rates at least once more this year, despite the temporary factors driving it and economic uncertainty that lies ahead.

Yield-o-Mania

BoE Inflation Report Hearing Eyed as Markets Price in Rate Hikes

Members of the Monetary Policy Committee including Governor Mark Carney will appear before the Treasury Select Committee later on today, during which they will be questioned on their latest inflation report forecasts and expectations for interest rates going forward. While it’s always interesting to get the views of policy makers and the pound will likely be volatile throughout, I wonder how much of what they have to say will now already be priced in, with at least one rate hike now expected this year.

GBPUSD Daily Chart

OANDA fxTrade Advanced Charting Platform

With that in mind and with Brexit transition negotiations likely to dominate the next month, we could see the pound lose some of the momentum that’s been gathering over the last six months or so. It’s recent failed to make new highs on two occasions against the dollar and it’s also slipping against the yen in a possible sign that traders are beginning to lock in profits ahead of what could be a difficult month.

Economic Calendar

For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.

FX Market Analysis – 20 February 2018 (Video)

Senior Market Analyst Craig Erlam discusses this week’s key event risks, with the most notable being the UK jobs report and BoE inflation report hearing.

Craig also gives his live analysis on EURUSD (11:04), GBPUSD (15:13), EURGBP (17:04), AUDUSD (18:36), USDCAD (20:02), GBPCAD (22:01), NZDUSD (24:47), USDJPY (25:44), GBPJPY (26:47) and EURJPY (28:24).

USD/JPY – Dollar Punches Above 107 Yen, Fed Minutes Ahead

Higher Yields Pushing Dollar Up

Intermezzo