Sterling brushes aside Hammond’s Budget, rises to three week high

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23 November 2017

Matthew Ryan

Senior Market Analyst at Ebury. Providing expert currency analysis so small and mid-sized businesses can effectively navigate international markets.

Sterling recovered its losses following Chancellor Philip Hammond’s Budget speech on Wednesday afternoon, rallying to around its strongest position in seven weeks against a broadly weaker US Dollar during Asian trading.

raders mostly overlooked Hammond’s policy announcements that it was deemed would have little impact on the UK economy. Perhaps the biggest takeaway from his fairly uneventful speech, aside from the abolishment of stamp duty for homes under £300k, was the issue of sharp downwardly revised growth forecasts from OBR. The Office for Budget Responsibility now expects the UK economy to grow by 1.5% this year (down from the 2% forecast in March), 1.4% in 2018 (1.6%) and just 1.3% in 2019 (1.7%). However, as this is largely in line with that majority of economists’ expectations, including that of the Bank of England, the sell-off in the Pound during Hammond’s speech proved limited and short lived.

Revised GDP data for the third quarter will be released from ONS this morning, although is expected to remain unchanged at 0.4%. In the absence of any surprises here, Sterling is likely to be driven by developments elsewhere.

Federal Reserve signals rate hikes in ‘near term’

The US Dollar fell slightly after the release of last night’s Federal Reserve meeting minutes, with the FOMC voicing concern over low inflation. The minutes did, however, say that most policymakers thought another hike would be warranted in the ‘near term’.

Prior to yesterday’s meeting minutes, the Dollar was on the back foot following the latest set of durable goods orders data which boded ill for US growth in the final quarter of the year. Orders fell 1.2% in October after economists had eyed an increase. Excluding transportation also underwhelmed, increasing by 0.4% versus the 0.5% forecast. Initial jobless claims were broadly in line with consensus at 239,000, remaining around their lowest level in over four decades.

With US markets closed due to the Thanksgiving holiday today, liquidity will be thin and activity limited. Next up for the greenback will be Friday afternoon’s manufacturing and services PMIs from Markit.

ECB to delay decision on policy until deep into 2018?

The Euro staged an impressive rally against the US Dollar on Wednesday afternoon, rising by around half a percent during London trading. Investors reacted positively to a report which cited sources that claimed the European Central Bank would offer higher economic forecasts when it next meets in December. The report suggested that the Governing Council would unlikely make any major policy changes next month, with a discussion on the next move in policy to be put off well into next year.

This afternoon’s ECB meeting accounts are likely to be fairly low key, although could provide some clues as to the timing of an ending to the bank’s QE programme in 2018. Prior to the accounts, this morning’s preliminary composite PMI is expected to remain unchanged at 56.0 for November.