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March 2017

Weekly Currency Insights from Halo Financial

Published: Tuesday 14 March 2017

What you may have missed last week – and what to watch out for this week…
  • ​​US interest rate hike likely within days
  • Article 50 could be triggered today…
  • Euro enjoys a boost from European Central Bank
  • Australia holds interest rates for sixth time
By Rachael Kinsella

This week’s major players

US awaits interest rate increase

Indications from Federal Reserve Chair, Janet Yellen, along with rising inflation and disappointing labour market results, could mean that the Fed will increase interest rates at the next policy meeting. That meeting is being held on Wednesday 15th March and has caused the US Dollar to weaken. At the start of the year, traders were not expecting a change so soon, but improving US data and a change in the sentiment within Federal Reserve meetings has altered that perspective..

Starting gun for Article 50 almost firing…

Uncertainty in the US runs parallel with more Brexit uncertainty in the UK – if the rumours are true, Article 50 could be triggered today. The fact that the bill has cleared both Houses of Parliament clears the path for the Prime Minister to get on with the EU exit negotiations.

Sterling has been suffering in recent weeks and markets are braced for more volatility to come, as the process of the UK leaving the EU begins in earnest. There will be turbulent times in store for the Pound in the coming weeks and months. It’s unlikely that the UK currency will improve any time soon, as markets wait to see what deals are negotiated. There is also continued uncertainty about the future of the United Kingdom, as Nicola Sturgeon calls for another Referendum on Scottish Independence. Perhaps the Pound will rally when everything is pinned down, but that’s a long way off just yet…

Turbulent times in store for the Pound 
A positive outlook for Europe doesn’t help the Euro

There was better news in Europe, as the president of the European Central Bank, Mario Draghi, took a positive approach in his Frankfurt speech. His focus was on innovation and entrepreneurship throughout Europe, with discussion of “dismantling barriers” in order to “innovate activity”. As well as addressing concerns about productivity in Europe, Draghi also referred to recent strong productivity results within the Euro area, particularly in the manufacturing sector. However, it failed to boost the Euro.

Almost mirroring the Budget speech from UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, last Wednesday, Mario Draghi spoke of the importance of education and on the job training for workers – and the workforce of the future. Before the speech, the Euro was at a high against the US Dollar, at 1.07. After the speech, the Euro fell slightly against the USD, to around the 1.065 mark, and against the Pound, falling from almost 0.88 to 0.87. The Euro has some hurdles to clear in the coming months, though. The Dutch and French elections are set to cause uncertainty and have the potential to create considerable currency market volatility; and the Greek debt problems are still entirely unresolved.

There will be a global central bank frenzy for the rest of the week, as the Bank of Japan, Bank of England and the Swiss National Bank are all due to announce their latest monetary policy plans. This is not set to cause too much of a stir in currency markets, as all eyes are likely to remain on the political and economic activities in the US and UK.

European Central Bank: Addressing concerns about Europe's productivity
Last week’s big issues

UK Budget causes some consternation

Most noteworthy for those sending money internationally in this year’s Budget speech were changes to overseas pensions. If you’re affected by these changes, or want to find out if you are, do seek independent financial advice. It is quite a specialist area though, so if you need a pointer to find the right specialists, please call your Halo Financial currency consultant.

Most important for businesses were the new measures on taxes and business rates, which have been the centre of heated debate.
Reserve Bank of Australia holds interest rates – again…

Last week, the Reserve Bank of Australia held interest rates at 1.5% for the sixth consecutive period. They, too, expect inflation to increase throughout 2017, and are approaching the coming months with caution.

Riddle me this?

What can you catch but not throw?
A cold.
What jumps higher that a building?
Everything. Buildings don’t jump!
How many seconds are in a year?
Only 12. 2nd January, 2nd February …
For more information, infographics and the latest currency insights, visit www.halofinancial.com/blog