March 29, 2011 Leave a comment
28th March 2011 – Sterling vs. Euro – The weekly report.
In the build up to last week all eyes were focussed on George Osborne’s budget on Wednesday, however, in what was a busy week it was UK retail sales that most affected Sterling’s performance against the Euro.
Monday started well for the UK with Rightmove house prices showing a slight increase although movement in the market is mainly limited to the top end. The market’s reaction was limited as traders were waiting for Consumer Price Inflation (CPI) out on Tuesday.
Consumer Price inflation is a key measure of the economy that looks at the change in prices of consumer goods and services purchased by households. February’s CPI figures were expected to show a growth from 4% to 4.2% but in fact came out better at 4.4%. As expected the Pound began to gain against the Euro as the figures were interpreted that an Interest rate rise in the UK is more probable. However there were some in the market, including currency analysts at HSBC, who believed the Pound was overpriced, saying rising inflation at a time of fiscal austerity was a reason to sell the Pound, rather than buy. As expected this curbed Sterling’s performance somewhat.
Euro Pound Graph – March 2011
On Wednesday the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee maintained its 6-3 split in favour of keeping rates on hold this month, seeing no major change in the medium-term outlook despite the CPI data on Tuesday. At lunchtime on Wednesday George Osborne’s budget unveiled cuts in the 2011 growth forecast to 1.7 percent from 2.1 percent as well as commenting that soaring oil prices mean inflation will remain between 4 and 5 percent this year. As Alejandro Zambrano, market strategist at FXCM commented, ‘Low growth and high inflation does not make good news for the currency’.
Despite the budget, Sterling remained relatively stable against the Euro and it wasn’t until disappointing UK retail sales were released on Thursday that we saw the Pound start to lose value. Sales in February fell 0.8% on the month against forecasts for a smaller decline of 0.6%, sharply slowing the annual rate of growth to 1.3% from a downwardly revised 5.1% in January. Added to this, the ratings agency ‘Moody’s’, said that Britain’s triple-A credit rating could be at risk if slower growth makes it harder for the government to rein in its budget deficit.
These two pieces of information effectively threw the Pound into freefall against the Euro throughout Thursday and well into Friday with the Pound falling to its lowest level in 2011. The Pound’s fragility against the Euro was based on concerns over the state of the UK economy and uncertainty as to when rates in the UK will be raised which BOEWATCH suggests is more likely to be in August rather than July as previously thought. Whilst in the Eurozone, Trichet confirmed he planned to press on ahead with the raising of interest rates potentially as soon as April despite deep concern over some of their member states, such as Portugal, who are looking almost certain to require a bailout from the European Central Bank.
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