Brexit Uncertainty Sends the GBP Tumbling Against Currency Rivals

Nov. 15, 2018 (Western Union Business Solutions)  – Sterling was spellbound, alternating between gains and losses, after Britain’s Brexit minister resigned. Heightened political uncertainty in the UK kept the pound on volatile ground. In the face of much scepticism amongst her own government, UK Prime Minister Theresa May was able to jump the first hurdle of many by securing cabinet approval of her draft Brexit agreement. GBP/USD oscillated between gains and losses in choppy trading, lacking any directional impetus either way. GBP/EUR continued to wrestle with a key level but was still unable to close above it – a feat last achieved in April. Despite approval from the cabinet, expected resignations by disgruntled cabinet ministers weighed on Sterling. The threat of hard-line Brexiteers calling for a no-confidence vote on Ms May could also derail Brexit developments and send Sterling southwards.

 

Today, Ms May will present the draft Brexit deal to the House of Commons and a vote in parliament is expected in December. There is increasing doubt over the divorce deal passing through parliament, which is unnerving investors and limiting Sterling gains. According to a Reuters report, demand for Sterling put options (the right to sell Sterling) is increasing, which is a tell-tale sign that market participants lack confidence in the pound recovering. UK retail sales for October unexpectedly fell by 0.5%, adding to the pound’s shaky bias. Yesterday, Sterling shrugged off inflation data, which held steady at 2.4% in October rather than rising to 2.5% as forecast. It appears that Sterling volatility is directly correlated to Brexit news though, leaving GBP traders vulnerable to both substantial upside and downside risk.

 

USD

 

US inflation increased by the most in nine months in October, which helped to temporarily stall the US Dollar’s recent decline from traders’ taking profit. The consumer price index rose by 2.5% from 2.3% y/y, encouraging investors about a path of gradual rate hikes by the US Federal Reserve. The US Dollar index, which tracks the dollar’s value against a basket of six currencies, powered to over 16-month highs on Monday, which prompted investors to take profit on the move higher, in other words selling the dollar and thus weakening it. However, despite dropping slightly, the US Currency remains near 2018 highs against its major currency rivals such as the Euro, Yen, Sterling and Canadian Dollar. The US today issues its monthly report on retail sales at 8:30 a.m. ET. Forecasts predict brisk spending of 0.5% in October, from the previous month’s 0.1% increase. Evidence of faster consumer spending, the main engine of US economic growth, would tend to be dollar-positive and a potential catalyst to keep the US unit near 2018 peaks.

 

EUR

 

The Euro attempted a further recovery yesterday following the relatively positive Brexit developments, however upside appears limited in the wake of the continued standoff between Rome and Brussels regarding Italy’s budget proposal. Italy ramped up tensions by re-submitting its budget plan to the European Commission with no changes to its deficit or growth targets. The original proposal was rejected by the Commission last month as it broke EU fiscal rules and therefore disciplinary steps may now be taken against Rome, which could result in a weaker Euro. The uncertainty and hostility rumbling on in Europe is unnerving investors and putting increased downside pressure on the common currency. EUR/USD momentarily recaptured a key level, which appears to be a level of both support and resistance. Meanwhile, data yesterday revealed the Eurozone grew at the slowest pace in four years in the third quarter. GDP in the common currency bloc expanded by just 0.2% between July and September. The slowing economic growth combined with the jitters resurfacing from Italy could force the European Central Bank to postpone its planned monetary tightening next year might, which would also hurt the Euro in the long run.


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