The week started with the US and China announcing tariffs against one another which will come into effect on 6 July, and it will end with the European Union announcing counter-tariffs against the world’s largest economy in response to those already imposed. While much of what has been announced this week was already anticipated, the rhetoric between these huge trading partners is heating up and that’s a major concern for investors.
The British pound was thrown a much-needed lifeline today following an unexpectedly hawkish statement and MPC vote split from the Bank of England. Market expectations over a possible UK interest rate hike this year were boosted after the monetary policy committee voted 6-3 in favor of keeping rates unchanged.
As is often the case with central bank meetings in the era of communication-as-a-policy-tool, the Bank of England’s “decision” (read: no change) on interest rates was already telegraphed well in advance. But for the always forward-looking markets, there was still plenty to digest from this morning’s BOE statement.
Markets have calmed down since yesterday’s big risk asset selloff, but that doesn’t mean that there’s nothing exciting on the horizon for traders. Namely, tomorrow’s Bank of England meeting should provide some important insights into Mark Carney and company see policy unfolding moving forward.
The outlook for sterling remains tilted to the downside, especially when factoring in how Brexit-related uncertainty and political risk may force the Bank of England to delay monetary policy normalization this summer.
The euro/British pound (EUR/GBP) currency pair could be on the verge of a breakdown after the European Central Bank’s policy decision on Thursday. While the central bank’s plan to end quantitative easing programme at the end of the year was a hawkish development, investors had already priced in that decision.
The jam-packed calendars for economic data and political events mean it is going to be a very busy week in the financial markets, perhaps the busiest of the year so far. This implies that the focus will be short-term with the longer-term themes likely to take a back seat. But the busy week has started quite badly for the British pound/U.S. dollar (GBP/USD) after the release of some poor UK economic data earlier today.
It has been a day of two halves for the U.S. dollar. The greenback was initially lower and sharply so against some commodity currencies, before bouncing back in the second half of today’s session – most notably against the British pound but also versus the Swiss franc and the Japanese yen. Commodity currencies were still outperforming, however, no doubt boosted by the ongoing risk-on rally.
Friday’s “risk-on” rally, triggered in part by those strong US employment figures, followed through on Monday as Asian shares and U.S. index futures rose. Although Europe was also higher at the open, some of the major indices such as the German DAX gave up their earlier gains as investors considered the impact of U.S. import tariffs on metals and how this may impact European companies and their profits.