The pound looks set to extend its decline next week, when traders and economists predict the Bank of England will cut interest rates for the first time in more than seven years.
Sterling, which posted its third consecutive monthly drop against the dollar in July, has weakened versus all of its 31 major peers in the past three months. Britain’s vote in June to leave the European Union, along with recent economic data which underscored the ensuing setback to consumer confidence and business activity, have boosted speculation that the BOE will loosen monetary policy on Aug. 4.
All but two of the 46 economists in a Bloomberg survey forecast policy makers led by Governor Mark Carney will cut the key interest rate from a record-low 0.5 percent. While the median estimate in a separate survey was for the BOE to maintain its asset-purchase target at 375 billion pounds ($498 billion), the highest forecast of 525 billion pounds underlined the uncertainty over the extent of the BOE’s stimulus measures. The central bank will also release its quarterly Inflation Report.
“I think it’s a done deal that we’re going to get easing next week, but the question is just how aggressive,” said Lee Hardman, a foreign-exchange strategist at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd. in London. “If we get a package of measures and not just a rate cut it will reinforce the weakening trend for the pound.”
The pound slid 0.3 percent this month to $1.3272 as of 5 p.m. London time Friday, having tumbled almost 9 percent in the previous two months. It dropped to a 31-year low of $1.2798 on July 6. Sterling weakened for a second month versus the euro, losing 0.9 percent to 84.16 pence.
Hardman said the U.K. currency was likely to end the year at $1.24, a level last seen in 1985.
BOE Monetary Policy Committee member Martin Weale shifted from his usually hawkish stance this week and supported immediate stimulus, boosting speculation the central bank will ease policy. Swaps signaled a 100 percent chance of a rate cut next week.
With such odds priced in, there is a risk policy measures fall short of what markets are predicting. The BOE voted 8-1 to refrain from any action this month, which prompted the pound to rally to its highest level in two weeks against the dollar.
‘Shock and Awe’
With traders bracing for the BOE to ease policy next week, Hardman said “it is a higher hurdle for them to out-dove current market expectations” and that could “help to potentially dampen the negative pound reaction.”
Neil Jones, head of hedge-fund sales at Mizuho Bank Ltd. in London, said the BOE may need to do more than the market is predicting to impact heavily on the currency.
“To be more bearish than what is factored, I would suggest a 40 basis-point cut and 50 billion pounds further on the QE front,” Jones said. “That would take it to beyond expectations and should provide a bit of an element of shock and awe. That would probably be the upper limits of what we could expect in terms of further measures.”
Naira Remains Pressure at N465/US$ Despite BDCs Expecting $50.9m from CBN
Naira Remains at N465/US$ Despite BDCs Expecting $50.9m Injection from CBN
The Nigerian Naira remained under pressure despite the Central Bank of Nigeria’s foreign exchange sales to the bureau de change operators (BDCs).
Since the apex bank resumed forex sales about two weeks ago, the local currency had only improved slightly against global counterparts as investors and businesses doubt the central bank’s ability to sustain forex intervention given the weak foreign reserves and low oil prices.
Two weeks ago, the apex bank injected $51.8 million into the foreign exchange market to ease scarcity and support Naira’s value, however, despite the amount injected, the local currency only moderated slightly from N480 to a US dollar to N443 before depreciating back to N465 following the increase in electricity tariff and complete subsidy removal.
In what appeared like investors have started pricing in a further decline in consumer spending, especially with inflation hovering above 13 percent and expected to rise further with an increase in prices.
Also, Nigeria’s unemployment rate remained high at 27.1 percent, meaning apart from weak revenue generation and definitely low tax revenue, businesses will not be creating enough jobs to cushion the impact of COVID-19 on the economy.
A situation expected to further weigh on Naira outlook against global counterparts, even with central bank forex sales.
The Naira exchanged at N465 to a US dollar on Tuesday despite Bureau de change operators expecting $50.9 million forex allocation from the central bank today. This means, the market no longer expect a meaningful impact from the apex bank intermittent intervention because of the disparity in the amount being injected and forex backlog estimated at slightly over $5 billion.
CBN Moves Against 55 Companies, Individuals for Forex Infractions
CBN Commences Investigation into FX Activities of 55 Companies, Individuals
In an effort to ease foreign exchange pressure and better manage the dwindling foreign reserves, the Central Bank of Nigeria has intensified fight against companies and individuals taking advantage of the nation’s limited foreign reserves.
The apex bank said it has commenced investigations into the activities of 55 companies and individuals engaging in foreign exchange transactions.
The central bank attributed the reason for the investigation to foreign exchange deals outside the official Investors & Exporters (I&E) forex window.
Some of the companies being investigated are Stallion Nigeria Limited, Interswitch Nigeria Limited, as well as a leading global shipping line, CMA CGM Nigeria Shipping Limited.
Other big names on the list are Petro-Afrique Energy Services Limited, Steel Force Far East Limited, Auto Petroleum Company Limited, Cavendish Mechanicals Limited, Aquashield Oil & Marine Limited, Haitch & Elf Integrated Services Limited, Fenog Nigeria Limited, and Promasidor Nigeria Limited.
The I&E window was established to facilitate foreign exchange transactions and encourage a moderate market-determined exchange rate.
Naira Declines to N465 Against US Dollar on Black Market
Naira Falls to N465 Against US Dollar on Black Market
Nigeria’s economic uncertainties continued to weigh on the Nigerian Naira despite the Central Bank of Nigeria’s forex sale resumption.
The local currency declined by N3 from N462 a US dollar to N465 on the black market even with over $58 million injected into the forex market through the bureau de change.
Against the British Pound, Naira depreciated by N5 from N595 to N600 on Friday while it dipped by N3 against the European common currency to N548, down from N545 it traded on Thursday.
A series of weak economic fundamentals and anti-people policy continued to hurt the nation’s economic outlook and investors’ confidence.
In a recent event, the Nigerian government simultaneously raised electricity tariffs, pump prices and foreign exchange rates in an economy that depends on imports for most of its supplies.
Also, with the unemployment rate at over 27 percent, inflation rate over 13 percent and the number of companies shutting downing operation rising on a daily bases, foreign investors and even local investors are now holding back on investments needed to support the nation’s weak foreign reserves and cushion the negative effect of COVID-19.
While the exchange rates have moderated slightly from COVID-19 peak, it remains close to COVID-19 record.
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