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Pound Traders Brace for Months of Swings as EU Vote Called

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Barclays UK

Pound traders are expecting little respite from the currency’s volatility after U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron called a referendum on the nation’s European Union membership for June 23.

The pound jumped the most in more than two weeks against the dollar after Cameron finalized a deal with EU leaders on Britain’s relationship with the rest of the 28-nation bloc in the closing hours of trading in New York on Friday. Still, a measure of traders’ expectations for price swings in the pound against the euro during the next six months remained at the highest since 2011. The deal Cameron secured means he is recommending the U.K. should stay in the EU, he said on Saturday.

Although the announcement of the date removes one aspect of ambiguity for traders, they now face months of polls and campaigning that could boost volatility further. With traders already pushing back bets on the timing of a Bank of England interest-rate increase, the prospect of Britain leaving the world’s largest single market had been causing further concern, helping push down the pound against most of its Group-of-10 peers this year.

“The pound’s weakness is a product of uncertainty of the U.K.’s ongoing membership of the union, not the timing of the poll,” said David Page, a senior economist at AXA Investment Managers in London. “Weakness is likely to reflect any increased perception of the likelihood to leave and as such is likely to be a constant feature over the coming months.”

The pound climbed 0.5 percent to $1.4406 as of 5 p.m. New York time on Friday. While the currency is down 2.2 percent this year, it has rebounded from an almost seven-year low of $1.4080 reached in January.

“The pound is likely to bounce near term” as investors see the deal “as increasing the prospects of Britain voting to stay in,” said Mansoor Mohi-uddin, senior markets strategist in Singapore at Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc. Still, “as we get closer towards June 23, investors are likely to become increasingly nervous,” he said.

Higher Volatility

Sterling added 0.2 percent to 77.29 pence per euro on Friday, paring its drop this year to 4.6 percent. Six-month implied volatility for the pound versus the euro, a measure of price swings based on options, was at 12.10 percent, the highest level since September 2011, based on closing prices.

The uncertainty over the vote hasn’t had the same impact on equities. While U.K. stock swings have increased this year, FTSE 100 Index implied volatility remains lower than for the euro area. And the weakening of the pound has actually helped the gaugeperform better than any other major market in the region. Even small- and mid-cap companies, deemed more at risk in a “Brexit” scenario, have fallen less than their European peers. Pictet Asset Management says U.K. stocks are not reflecting the true danger of an exit.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said earlier this month that if Britain quits the EU sterling could fall to $1.15-$1.20 — levels last since in 1985. HSBC Holdings Plc said in January that a forecast for a jump to $1.60 by year-end relied on the nation remaining in the 28-member club.

“The uncertainty will persist” into the vote, said Kit Juckes, a global strategist at Societe Generale SA in London. “Sterling was the weakest major last week and probably remains under pressure.”

Ministers’ Stance

Traders’ attention may now turn to the stance of ministers who, while given a free hand by Cameron to campaign against the government’s position, were asked not to announce their intentions until after the cabinet meeting.

Cameron was given a fillip on Saturday when Business Secretary Sajid Javid and Home Secretary Theresa May, both seen as wavering over which way to vote, threw their support behind the campaign to remain. Six ministers, including Justice Secretary Michael Gove, were later pictured at the headquarters of one of several groups campaigning to leave the EU.

The support of London Mayor Boris Johnson for either side may prove key to sterling, given his popularity with the British public, according Morgan Stanley. Should he choose to publicly back the exit campaign, “the pound should come under immediate pressure,” analysts led by Hans Redeker wrote in an e-mailed report Friday.

/Bloomberg

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Forex

Naira Exchange Rate Improves as CBN Plans to Flood Economy With $20 Billion Diaspora Remittances

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Nigeria 1000 notes

The Naira to US Dollar exchange rate improved by N10 to N490 on Tuesday following the Central Bank of Nigeria’s new directive that allows recipients of diaspora remittances to receive their fund in foreign currency (US Dollar) or via their ordinary domiciliary account.

The move was after the apex bank blamed the parallel market for the wide foreign exchange rate and cautioned analysts for using speculative rates as the real Naira/US dollar rate.

Therefore, the apex bank decided to inject $20 billion annual diaspora remittances into the real sector of the economy and hurt the activities of unscrupulous individuals at the parallel market.

Investors King expects this to gradually moderate the nation’s foreign exchange rate against global counterparts, deepen business activities and fast track economic recovery.

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Forex

CBN Amends Forex Receipt as Naira Hits Record Low

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Naira Dollar Exchange Rate

In a bid to simplify and finally liberalize the receipt of diaspora remittances, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has amended its receipt procedures to allow beneficiaries of diaspora remittances receive such inflows in foreign currency (US Dollars).

The apex bank stated in a circular signed by Dr. O.S. Nnaji, Director Trade and Exchange Department, CBN.

In the circular, recipients of remittances can now receive funds in either foreign currency cash (US Dollars) or into their ordinary domiciliary account.

While the International Money Transfer Operators (IMTOs) will henceforth receive diaspora remittances in foreign currency through the designated bank of their choice.

The CBN plans to ease forex scarcity, speed up the recovery process and checkmate the activities of speculators and hoarders at the black by injecting diaspora remittances estimated at about $20 billion per year into the real economy.

This is expected to not just improve business activities but also moderate foreign exchange rate from the current N500/US$ and move the central bank a step closer to unifying the nation’s foreign exchange rates.

The circular partly reads “In an effort to liberalize, simplify and improve the receipt and administration of diaspora remittances into Nigeria, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) wishes to announce as follows;

“Beneficiaries of Diaspora Remittances through International Money Transfer Operators (IMTOs) shall henceforth receive such inflows in foreign currency (US Dollars) or into their ordinary domiciliary account. Such recipients of remittances may have the option of receiving these funds in foreign currency cash (US Dollars) or into their ordinary domiciliary account.”

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Naira Devaluation Pushed Exchange Rate to N500/US$ at Black Market

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NAIRA

Naira to United States Dollar exchange rate plunged to N500 on Monday after the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) devalued the Naira by N6 on Friday amid growing scarcity.

At the current rate, the local currency has lost N140 per US dollar when compared with N360 it was sold in the same month of 2019 and N5 compared to N495 it exchanged on Friday.

In an effort to ease pressure on the nation’s foreign reserves and unify foreign exchange rates in line with the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank’s requirement for loans, the CBN devalued the official exchange rate by N6 from N379/US$ to N385/US$ and directed bureau de change operators to sell at N392/US$, up from N386/US$.

However, with importers and businesses looking to meet the usual high demand for goods in December pushing demand for the United States dollar off the roof, Naira’s value has continued to plummet despite efforts by the CBN to prop up its value.

Against the British Pound, the Naira declined to N650, down from N620 it exchanged last week. This depreciation continues against the Euro common currency as the local currency declined to N585.

Lack of liquidity due to the weak foreign reserves, low oil prices and weak demand for the commodity amid production cuts by OPEC and allies is hurting CBN’s ability to effectively intervene at the nation’s foreign exchange markets.

The apex bank usually sells forex to dealers to ease scarcity and facilitate trades. However, lack of foreign revenue generation has forced the CBN to reduce its weekly forex sales to $10,000 per bureau de change operator despite reopening of the economy pushing demand for forex further up.

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