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Pound Slides as BOE Cuts Rate

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British pound

The pound fell the most in more than four weeks after the Bank of England cut interest rates for the first time since March 2009, part of a suite of stimulus measures to help boost the economy after the U.K.’s vote to leave the European Union in June.

Sterling dropped at least 1.4 percent against all of its 16 major peers after the nine-member Monetary Policy Committee voted unanimously to lower the benchmark rate by 25 basis points to a record-low 0.25 percent. Officials led by Governor Mark Carney increased the central bank’s asset-purchase target for the first time in four years, raising the target by 60 billion pounds ($79 billion) to 435 billion pounds. U.K. government bonds jumped, pushing the 10-year gilt yield to a record low.

The MPC also said it will buy as much as 10 billion pounds of corporate bonds in the next 18 months, though there was disagreement among the nine members about whether quantitative easing was warranted at this stage. Options trading showed the pound could fall further in coming months.

Brexit ‘Headwinds’

“The BOE clearly is willing to provide an array of stimulus policies because it thinks that the U.K. economy is going to face substantial headwinds from Brexit,” said Peter Frank, global head of Group-of-10 currency strategy at Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA in London. “I think the BOE and the government is keen to see a much weaker pound.”

The pound fell 1.5 percent to $1.3126 as of 4:02 p.m. London time, the steepest decline since July 5, a day before it touched a 31-year low of $1.2798. Sterling weakened 1.4 percent to 84.85 pence per euro.

The decision to cut borrowing costs was forecast by all but two of 52 economists surveyed by Bloomberg, with the majority predicting a 25 basis-point reduction. Before the announcement, swaps pricing showed a 100 percent chance of a cut.
Economists in a separate survey were less certain about the possibility of the BOE announcing further stimulus measures, with 23 of 44 analysts forecasting no change to the the central bank’s quantitative-easing plan.

‘Further Easing’

“We feel this is an appropriate first step and anticipate further easing from the MPC in the coming months as the growth outlook becomes clearer,” said David Zahn, London-based head of European fixed income at Franklin Templeton Investment Management Ltd. “This is good news as it is supportive of the bond market. However, in general this will be slightly bearish for the pound.”

The pound has declined almost 12 percent against the dollar since the nation opted for Brexit, weakening for a third consecutive month in July, as economic consequences of the decision began to surface.

Derivatives trading suggested the pound will weaken further. The premium for three-month options granting the right to sell the currency against the dollar relative to those for buying rose 16 basis points to 1.07 percentage points. That’s still lower than the level on the referendum day when it was 4.13 percentage points.

On a longer-term horizon however, that concern was less pronounced. The premium for 12-month options was little changed at 1.635 percentage points.

Benchmark 10-year gilt yields dropped 16 basis points, or 0.16 percentage point, to 0.64 percent, having earlier touched 0.634 percent. The 2 percent bond due in September 2025 rose 1.505, or 15.05 pounds per 1,000-pound face amount, to 111.985. The nation’s two-year gilt yield fell eight basis points to 0.12 percent, after reaching 0.07 percent, the lowest since July 1.

“So the BOE delivered a dovish surprise as regards QE measures,” said Thu Lan Nguyen, a foreign-exchange strategist at Commerzbank AG in Frankfurt. “Only roughly half the market probably had expected an increase of QE, probably less the introduction of corporate bonds. The BOE wants to set a clear signal that it has switched into crisis mode.”

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

More Problem for CBN as Naira Approaches N500/US$ at the Black Market

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Forex Weekly Outlook March 6 - 10

Naira plunged against the United States Dollar to a record low of N495 at the black market on Thursday despite the Central Bank of Nigeria saying it has enough financial means to meet forex demands.

The Naira declined by N12 from N483 it exchanged on Monday amid persistent scarcity and high demands by importers and businesses looking to offset COVID-19 losses with the usual December high demand sales.

Godwin Emefiele, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), on Tuesday blamed the wide foreign exchange rate at the black market on speculators and hoarders looking for personal gain at the expense of the nation.

He went on to caution experts using black market rates to analyse the local currency performance to stop and claimed that section of the forex only accounts for 5 percent of the nation’s total foreign exchange transactions.

While that might be true, it is also true that majority of manufacturers and businesses have turned to the black market for their forex needs in recent months, especially after it became obvious that the apex bank does not have enough liquidity to service the economy.

The nation’s foreign reserves has been battered by the weak oil prices and the continuous production cut by OPEC and allies to artificially support low prices. Nigeria’s foreign reserves is presently hovering between $35 billion and $36 billion after plunging from $45 billion attained in June 2019, according to the latest data from the Central Bank of Nigeria.

Against the British Pound, the Nigerian Naira depreciated by N15 to N635 from N620 it exchanged on Monday. Another indication of chronic forex scarcity as the local currency also plunged to N580 against the European common currency, the Euro.

The wide forex is expected to further weigh on the nation’s inflation rate and consumer spending this December.

On Tuesday, the apex bank left the interest rate unchanged at 11.5 percent and attributed the rising inflation rate to structural policies, the recent #EndSARS protest and a surging fuel price.

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Forex

Naira Gains N1 to N483 Against US Dollar as CBN Warned Speculators of Impending Doom

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Naira Remains under pressure

The Central Bank of Nigeria on Tuesday warned speculators and hoarders of the United States Dollar against creating artificial forex scarcity for personal gain.

Godwin Emefiele, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, said black market forex rates does not reflect the economic reality of the Nigerian Naira as that section of the forex is tainted with bribes and individuals looking to profit at the expense of the nation.

We do not agree that the determining factor for our currency should be based on a market that is tainted, where people go to offer bribes,” he stated during a virtual monetary policy committee briefing in Abuja.

The Nigerian Naira gained N1 against the United States dollar to trade at N483 at the parallel market also known as the black market, up from N484 it traded on Monday.

Emefiele said “The black market is illegal where people do not provide documentation to support transactions. It is unfortunate and unfair for analysts to say Nigeria’s exchange rate is at 480 per dollar.”

The Association of Bureau De Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON) agreed with the central bank, saying speculators and currency hoarders are responsible for the wide forex rates. The association warned that speculators are going to lose money given that the apex bank has foreign reserves of $36 billion to support the local currency and meet forex demands.

The apex bank left the interest rate unchanged at 11.5 percent to further stimulate growth in the real sector and speed up the recovery process with cheaper loans. Other ratios were left unchanged as well.

Speaking on the rising inflation rate, Godwin Emefiele attributed the 14.23 percent increase in consumer prices to the rising pump price, the recent #EndSARS protest and structural policies.

Therefore, it looks like the apex bank will damn rising inflation for the first time to focus on economic productivity, new job creation and general growth.

The Naira CBN official rate remains $379 to a United States Dollar while it exchanged at N385 on the Investors and Exporters Forex Window on Tuesday.

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Bureaux De Change Association Warns Against Hoarding of US Dollar, Says Speculators will Lose

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Naira Dollar Exchange Rate

The Association of Bureaux De Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON) on Sunday warned currency speculators and hoarders of impending losses if they do not desist from creating bogus foreign exchange rates for personal gain.

In a statement titled, “ABCON warns speculators will lose money as CBN has enough reserves to fund market, defend naira”, the association said speculators and hoarders are taking a huge risk as the Central Bank of Nigeria has enough liquidity to defend the Naira and maintain stability against global foreign counterparts.

This is coming few days after the local currency plunged to N484 to a United States dollar and N620 against the British Pound at the black market due to the rising demand and persistent scarcity that most hoarders interpreted as lack of financial muscle on the part of the central bank, especially if the nation’s falling foreign reserves is factored in.

However, ABCON said with about $36 billion foreign reserves, the Central Bank of Nigeria has the necessary means to punish speculators and hoarders they described as enemies of the nation.

President of ABCON, Alhaji Aminu Gwadabe, explained that the central bank is working to unify the nation’s foreign exchange rates and eliminate past challenges that have made market determined forex rates almost impossible.

He said “I think that the CBN by pushing the official foreign exchange rate from N306 to N379 to the dollar is in line with market demand.

“It has also helped to narrow the official-parallel market rates gap that formed the basis of ridiculous speculations among unpatriotic forex dealers and spectators.

Gwadabe, however, advised the Federal Government to improve security surveillance at the nation’s land borders to checkmate illegal foreign currency cash deals.

He also asked the central bank to raise liquidity ratio of bureau de change operators to discourage dollar holdings.

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