Sterling remained on the front foot against the Euro Exchange Rate

Foreign Exchange Rates Currency News - The Pound remained on the front foot against the Euro Exchange Rate

by Adam Solomon

Sterling / Euro and US Dollar exchange rates

Following on from last week, the Pound remained on the front foot against the Euro exchange rate, ahead of the EU Summit and reports that Britain had rejected the treaty. The decline in risk appetite meant the Pound declined back towards near-term support in the region of 1.5550 versus the U.S Dollar, but the UK currency made widespread gains versus the higher-yielding currencies like the Australian Dollar and the South African Rand.

There was no surprise from the Bank of England, as interest rates were left unchanged at 0.5%, while the quantitative easing plan was also unchanged at £275 billion. As usual with a no policy change, there was no MPC statement and we’ll have to wait for the minutes of the meeting later this month to gauge the voting pattern.

The Pound edged higher following the decision and pushed to highs above 1.5750 against the Dollar before retreating sharply, as risk sentiment declined. The UK currency was undermined by the general flow of funds into the Dollar with lows near 1.56, as it held firm against the Euro. There will be speculation of political isolation surrounding the EU summit and, much more damagingly, there will be fears that the UK economy will be vulnerable to any possibility of a Euro-zone break-up.

Safe haven demand for Sterling will continue to be a key factor and there will be expectations of further defensive inflows, despite fears over the UK economic outlook. The principal feature is likely to be a sustained increase in volatility. The European Central Bank cut interest rates on Thursday, ahead of the EU summit, which could determine if any of the region’s members can keep a top credit rating with Standard Poor’s.

Although the Bank of England is reluctant to extend quantitative easing measures until the current round of purchases have been completed, King introduced a new sterling liquidity measure this week to help banks weather any further escalation of the sovereign debt crisis. The Pound and the Euro fell against the Dollar, after the ECB President Mario Draghi dampened speculation that the Central Bank would buy more bonds to fight the debt crisis.

Bank of England policy maker Martin Weale said on November 25th that there’s a strong case for further QE in the future and Paul Fisher also conceded that more stimulus may be needed. The National Institute of Economic and Social Research reported that UK economic growth slowed to 0.3% in the three months through November, increasing fears of a recession.

The UK currency swung between gains and losses against the Dollar as risk sentiment remained volatile and a drop in sentiment improved demand for the U.S currency as a haven. The Euro rose from the lowest level in a week against the Dollar on Friday, after the region’s leaders boosted a rescue fund and tightened budget rules to help counter the debt crisis.

Officials added €200 billion to the bailout fund and toughened anti-deficit rules, which resulted in European stocks bouncing back following this morning’s slump. The announcement was largely factored into the market but the Euro found support, as it would have taken something very poor to weaken it even further.

The Canadian Dollar rallied against the majors on Friday, as oil prices rebounded for the first time in three days, after EU leaders agreed on a plan for closer fiscal union and eased concern that the sovereign debt crisis will spread and spiral out of control. U.S futures rose, alongside global stock markets, after leaders holding all night talks in Brussels added €200 billion to the debt crisis fund.

The Australian Dollar declined against the majority of the 16 most actively traded currencies, trading above 1.54 against the Pound, after a report showed that unemployment increased last month, as employers unexpectedly slashed jobs. The Aussie extended its drop as Chinese inflation remained unchanged and the ECB President Mario Draghi dampened speculation that the central bank would expand bond purchases to stem the region’s debt crisis.

Euro / US Dollar exchange rates

The Euro declined against the Dollar on Thursday, as the ECB cut interest rates to 1% and the decision was not unanimous, which suggests divisions are forming within the governing council. There was also a reduction in GDP forecasts and there was a general sense of pessimism surrounding the outlook for the economy over the next quarter.

The central bank also announced that it would introduce new three-year repo operations to provide long-term liquidity to the banking sector. The Euro declined sharply following Draghi’s comments in the ECB press conference, as Italian bond yields spiked higher. In the U.S, the economic data was better-than-expected with a drop in weekly jobless claims to 381,000 in the latest week from 402,000 and this provided a brief boost to risk appetite, albeit shortly.

There were further political tensions in the build up to the EU summit meeting. A draft agreement indicated that any treaty changes would be limited to the 17-nation Euro-zone rather than the 27 EU member countries. Underlying confidence remained fragile on fears that the Summit agreement would not be sufficient to provide relief and the Euro retreated sharply to re-test lows below 1.33.

EU leaders concluded their Summit on Friday, hammering out details of the fiscal compact. There would be a limit of 0.5% of GDP on structural budget deficits and any break of this limit could invoke sanctions. The main focus was political with the UK decision to opt out of the Treaty.

Today’s Exchange Rate Data

U.S 19:00 – Federal Budget (November)

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