Exchange Rates Today: British Pound Heads Lower Still, Euro and Dollar in Attritional Battle

Exchange Rates Today: British Pound Heads Lower Still, Euro and Dollar in Attritional Battle

24 March 2016, 11:27
Vasilii Apostolidi

Pound sterling has been unable to reap advantage from news retail sales beat analyst expectations by a decent margin.

In London trade we are seeing sterling remain under pressure, despite good economic data being released.

Year-on-year estimates of the quantity bought in the retail industry showed growth for the 34th consecutive month in February 2016, increasing by 3.8% compared with February 2015.

A month-on-month comparison showed sales were 0.4% down on the previous month, however this was much better than the -0.7% forecast by analysts.

The retail sector is incredibly important to the UK economy which is a services-orientated economy that relies heavily on consumer spending.

The reaction by sterling was lacklustre, at best.

This confirms that the ‘Brexit premium’ is still alive and well; this refers to the difference between where the pound should be based on economics and where it actually is, thanks to the selling induced by EU referendum uncertainties.

“The pound remains under pressure against both the dollar and the euro as Brexit concerns continue to weigh. GBP/EUR broke below the 1.26 mark this morning to a new low since December 2014,” says a client briefing from brokerage CaxtonFX.

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  • The pound to euro exchange rate is today trading 0.20% lower on a day-on-day comparison having reached 1.26. Our algorithms are suggesting banks are offering international transfers from around 1.225-1.30, while independent providers are likely quoting you at 1.24-1.2420.
  • The pound to dollar exchange rate is today 0.31 lower than where it closed last night at 1.4076, the proverbial line-in-the-sand set by leading FX forecasters.
  • The euro to dollar exchange rate is today around where it has been for the last couple of days at 1.1168.

Pound Suffers on Political Uncertainty

The GBP has traded heavily in recent sessions, as the mild “risk-off” tone and heightened political uncertainty have weighed on GBPUSD in particular.

“Yesterday provided an indication of the risk premium being “priced-in” for the EU referendum, as options with a 3 month tenor included the decision date – 23rd June – for the first time,” notes Robin Wilkins at Lloyds Bank.

Lloyds note a surge in 3-month GBP volatility, and the 3-month GBPUSD risk reversal showed its strongest bias towards puts (protection against decline in GBPUSD) since the 2008-09 Financial Crisis, surpassing both the Scottish Referendum and UK General Election in terms of extremity.

US Dollar Continues to Trend Higher, Euro Stubborn Though

The dollar strengthened as US Fed Member Bullard indicated yesterday that there may be a case for raising interest rates as early as April, given the possibility of overshooting inflation and unemployment targets.

This added to recent hawkish comments from Fed Members Williams, Lockhart, and Evans.

“Fed officials have been keeping up the hawkish rhetoric. Some market participants are even wondering if this is a coordinated attempt to get the market to price the two hikes that the Fed is predicting,” says John Cairns at RMB.

Whatever the case, the tough talk has kept the slow and steady dollar rally intact, EUR/USD is at 1.1170 from a post-Fed peak of 1.1340 last week.

Lloyds’ Wilkins is however forecasting the next major move in EUR to USD as being lower:

“EURUSD remains under pressure as the market continues to re-price the risk of a US rate hike. Having broken below support at 1.1180, should current conditions prevail, the pair is likely to gravitate towards 1.1060/40.”

Look for traffic to slow up in the 1.1060 and 1.1040 congestion areas, these are the infamous 50d and 200d moving averages which reliably stall moves in currencies.

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