According to Bloomberg, traders are increasingly pessimistic about the pound as they expect the currency to post further declines. Meanwhile, weakened euro sentiment due to the new Covid restrictions has allowed the pound to remain supported, but this will be limited, as analysts have noted.

Pound pessimism

The pound pessimism is due to a range factors. On the one hand, markets are becoming pessimistic and fear that the Bank of England will not raise interest rates in December. Others are even fearing that a tighter policy will damage the economy. On the other hand, the US dollar is strong on expectations of the Federal Reserve reducing its stimulus programme. Traders are pessimistic as they are concerned about the growth outlook for Britain, with persisting issues as Covid and Brexit uncertainty. There are also concerns that a near-term rate hike will damage the economy and will be a huge policy mistake.

While markets expect an interest rate hike in December, recent comments by Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey and Chief Economist Huw Pill have cast more doubt, with traders becoming more cautious about unexpected pound volatility. The pound has fallen more than 5% in the past six months. On Monday, it fell again as the dollar rose following news that Jerome Powell was nominated to a second term as the Federal Reserve’s chair.

Analysts expect the pound to fall even further. They believe the UK is exposed to global economic forces and, while supply chain issues are starting to be resolved, there are economic obstacles ahead.

Covid restrictions and the euro

The pound is holding against the euro due to deteriorating sentiment towards the Eurozone following the reintroduction of Covid lockdown restrictions. While the impact is relatively limited, the euro could fall further if Germany introduces tighter restrictions in the coming days.

Covid cases and hospitalisations are on the rise in Germany, and if Covid concerns increase then the euro will suffer more.

The euro has been hurt by the rising cases across the bloc, which has reinforced the dovish outlook for the European Central Bank’s policy.

Germany's response has been to push for higher vaccination rates and increased restrictions for unvaccinated citizens. Germany is worried about the current situation and wants to control it with additional measures to curb a fourth wave in December.

Some economists believe that the current restrictions in the Eurozone will have a limited impact on the economy than previous ones, as the outlook in the long term is positive. Euro weakness is believed to be limited as sentiment could return once the spike in Covid cases reaches its peak. So, if the right measures are taken today to control the spread of the virus, then the potential and short-term euro weakness will be for the benefit of long-term economic recovery.

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Sterling’s major weakness in the near future is a potential weakening in risk sentiment which will also weigh on global stock markets, hitting risk-correlated currencies. According to analysts, global risk sentiment will remain one of the key external drivers of the UK currency. At the same time, if global developments improve and equities stabilise, the pound will still need a boost from domestic factors such as stronger domestic data to recover some of its most recent losses. For the pound to continue to strengthen, the market will need to become convinced that the medium-term growth outlook for the UK economy is improving markedly. This would require some real productivity gains to be realised over the coming months and years.

While UK fundamentals have proven to be supportive, the global picture is very important for Sterling, especially when stock markets suffer, risk sentiment is low, and investors are usually spooked.

Risk appetite in global financial markets

Analysts have noticed a pattern emerging where the pound falls against the euro in times of risk off conditions. The pound commonly benefits from strong global growth, which has also been the case for the euro. When there is limited financial risk, investors tend to take more risks, therefore creating a “risk-on” situation. However, when there is uncertainty and high volatility, what is also called a “risk-off” environment, traders want to avoid risk and they sell their higher-yielding assets and move their funds to safe-haven currencies.

The euro as a risk-off currency

While the euro like the pound has been the beneficiary of positive market sentiment, more recently, this has changed, and it seems that the single currency benefits against the pound when global investor sentiment weakens. What this means, is that the euro has become a risk off currency.

  • Risk off currency

A risk off currency gains when stock markets decline as investors want to avoid risk and sell their risky assets.

  • Cyclical currency

The euro used to be seen as a cyclical currency but is much less now. Cyclical currencies such as the pound and AUD tend to appreciate when global economic growth is expanding, unlike the US dollar, the yen and Franc which are seen as safe havens.

The euro has benefited when stock markets are selling off and it has given the impression that is a safe-haven asset. According to research from HSBC, due to the low interest rate environment in the Eurozone, billions of cheap euros are borrowed, sold and repatriated into euros, creating demand on the currency and “establishing an impression that it is now a 'safe haven' asset during times of market stress.” Head of FX Research at HSBC Paul Mackel explained that this shift in the euro “comes down to the low growth, low rates environment that has become seemingly endemic in the region,” and is “a consequence of the ECB’s quantitative easing programme and shift to negative rates.” Mackel added that "Signs that rates may be lower for even longer could encourage these outflows to continue, or even exacerbate them.”

"For many years, the EUR was seen as a cyclical play, which benefited from strong global growth. However, the last decade or so has seen overseas asset accumulation outstrip inflows from foreign investors. This could start to change the way in which the EUR behaves,” Mackel said.  

Pound-Euro outlook

If you are a business exchanging pounds to euros or vice versa, it is beneficial to understand this dynamic and how risk sentiment and appetite affect the currency pair. For the pound then to appreciate against the euro, there will need to be improvement in global market conditions. If, on the contrary, global growth and markets are at risk, the euro could appreciate. The rapid spread of another Covid variant or any quick move by the Federal Reserve to withdraw its financial support are seen as major risks to the global economy and the pound in particular.

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The pound has potential to rise further as more positive news is expected, while some risks remain relating to concerns about the pandemic and a rising euro. The latest Lloyds business barometer for the month of May rose to a three-year high, while Gertjan Vlieghe, an outgoing Monetary Policy Committee member at the Bank of England (BoE), said on Thursday that interest rates could rise by the middle of next year. At the same time, with a thin economic calendar the pound could fluctuate unpredictably in what is expected to be a volatile week ahead. also mean that the pound

Rising Renmbibi exchange rates

The Pound-to-Euro exchange rate could be volatile with the potential to rise higher if the recent boost in Renminbi exchange rates leads the Peoples’ Bank of China (PBoC) to buy non-Dollar currencies in a bid to ward off dollar appreciation pressures. China’s exchange rates rose after a decision to allow USD/CNH to fall. The move was the result of concerns regarding rising Dollar-denominated commodity prices and was driven by an attempt to offset the increase through a stronger exchange rate. This eventually resulted in the rise of other Chinese exchange rates that are a macroeconomic hazard for the PBoC, as research analysts have noted. The fall of the USD/CNH supported the Renminbi against all China Foreign Exchange Trade System (CFETS) currencies.

The rise of Renminbi is problematic for the PBoC because it results in cheaper imported goods and could drive the bank to buy other currencies in an attempt to reduce its other exchange rates. In general, a prolonged period of RMB appreciation and USD weakness could become an issue for policymakers and the PBoC could use further administrative tools to control this.

The currency pair could also be further affected by the BoE Governor Andrew Bailey’s speech on Tuesday on the subject of "Building a Finance System Fit for a Clean, Resilient and Just Future."

Euro appreciation could drive pound lower

Analysts have explained that the euro could be the main currency in Europe to benefit from the PBoC’s potential attempt to manage extreme currency appreciation. The pound-to-euro exchange rate has performed well, However, if the euro rises, this will potentially push the pound to euro rate lower. On Wednesday, when the ECB releases a report on the international role of the euro, the common currency could rise, and this could possibly push the pound lower.

Covid-19

At the moment, the markets might be relatively calm in both the US and the UK, and after Friday's volatile trading, but fears of Covid-19 variants may send sterling down, some analysts are saying. FXStreet’s analyst Yohay Elam stated that “People residing in the UK may enjoy the long weekend at home and in several European countries – but not in France nor Germany, where they are required to quarantine. These restrictions serve as a reminder of the B.1.167.2 variant. Sterling is on the back foot due to these fears.”

Are you transferring funds abroad?

If you are a business transferring funds overseas, contacting a currency specialist could save you time and money. Get in touch with Universal Partners FX and their dedicated team to discuss the latest market movements ahead of your currency exchange. If you are paying your employees abroad, get in touch with Universal Partners FX to find out how much you can save in your international money transfers. Universal Partners FX can provide invaluable help on efficient risk management and tailored solutions to your personal or business’ transfer needs.

The British Pound could strengthen against the Euro and Dollar in the coming weeks if economic data continues to beat expectations, according to the latest projections by economists. But, analysts at Bank of America have told clients on Tuesday that Sterling was more like an emerging market currency. Lead analyst Kamal Sharma said that the currency’s movements the last four years since the UK Brexit referendum have been “neurotic at best, unfathomable at worst.”

Pound: An emerging market currency

It is not the first time that the pound has been described as an emerging market currency. Last year, in September, Bank of England governor Mark Carney said that Brexit-related volatility had made the pound act like an emerging market currency.

According to this week’s reports, “Sterling’s spreads and implied volatility – the future range investors expect GBP to move in – remain far wider than other major world currencies, such as the U.S. dollar, euro or Japanese yen, and resemble something closer to the Mexican peso.” Brexit uncertainty and the possibility of negative interest rates have hurt investor sentiment, BoA analysts said.

Better than expected data could offer support for Sterling

But Pound Sterling Live stated that if UK economic data continues to come in better than expected the pound will be supported. It did note, however, that “those looking for a stronger Sterling will continue to have to exercise patience in the near-term.”

With recent economic figures beating expectations and markets underestimating how quick the UK’s economic recovery will be, there is a “decisive shift in momentum.” Tuesday’s PMI data for June were better than expected with the Markit/CIPS Manufacturing PMI at 50.1, the Services PMI at 47, and the Composite PMI at 47.6, all above forecasts.

According to analyst at DNB Markets Kjersti Haugland, things are even more positive as there is a significant rebound of the economy. He said: "A literal interpretation of the figures suggests that manufacturing activity stabilised in June while service sector activity fell further, as a reading below 50 indicates a contraction compared to the previous month. However, some of the respondents may make a pre-Covid-19 comparison instead. Therefore, the sharp increase in June suggests activity is picking up quicker than expected.”

The British Pound does well when the UK economy is growing, unlike the US Dollar which strengthens when the economy is in decline due to its safe haven status. So, if the UK economy continues to grow and economic data comes out stronger than expected, then the pound will find support. This coupled with an easing of lockdown restrictions and the opening of businesses will help the economy recover. As the PM Boris Johnson announced on the 23 June, pubs and restaurants, campsites, hotels and holiday homes will reopen on 4 July. Other businesses such as spas, nail bars, casinos and swimming pools will remain closed.

However, a stronger Pound might be a distant possibility for now, as Sterling was the worst performing currency the past month out of the G10 and was “near the bottom of the pack which reflects a short- to medium-term trend is in place against many major currencies and this will prove tough to crack.”

 

With Brexit uncertainty to continue due to the ongoing negotiations and the harsh stance of the Bank of England both on quantitative easing and interest rates, the pound will remain volatile.

If you are a business sending money abroad or an individual transferring your funds and are worried about the pound’s volatility due to the current market conditions, please get in touch with Universal Partners FX. UPFX’s dedicated foreign exchange specialists can help you transfer your funds safely and maximise the value of your money.

On Wednesday (03/06/20), the Euro was up against the US dollar, marking its seventh consecutive day and the “longest winning streak since December 2013.” The euro’s surge is the result of investors moving away from the US dollar as well as news that the European Commission will be helping the Eurozone economy with a 750 billion euro ($826.5 billion) fund to ease the damage from the pandemic.

The Euro had a roller coaster ride the last few years. Recently, due to slower economic growth, the Euro has dropped, but there have been signs of increase as the Covid-19 pandemic hit financial markets and investors turned towards the safety of government bonds. But soon it fell again, as investors turned to safe-haven assets such as the US dollar. Since mid-March, the euro has been at its highest after the significant decrease of new coronavirus cases in the EU.

With the continued uncertainty due to the coronavirus pandemic and the ongoing Brexit negotiations, the Euro will remain sensitive. But let’s see what the main drivers of the euro in the coming months are.

Key Drivers of the Euro

Apart from the coronavirus pandemic and Brexit updates, the Euro is sensitive to releases of macroeconomic data including GDP, unemployment rates, manufacturing and services output and consumer price indices which measure the Eurozone economy’s health. Significant events such as meetings of the European Central Bank (ECB) and updates regarding policy on interest rates and fiscal stimulus, can also impact on the single currency. For example, low interest rates are unattractive to investors.

If the US Dollar rises, as the US economy strengthens and interest rates are increased by the Federal Reserve, then this will weigh on the Euro. There are also dangers from weaker global growth and a slowing of the EU member states’ economies, especially the German economy.

Last but not least, if the Chinese economy slows and China’s trade is reduced, then there will be less demand for European imports.

European Commission forecast for the Eurozone economy

In its Spring 2020 Economic Forecast, the European Commission reported that the coronavirus pandemic will have “very severe socio-economic consequences” for the global and EU economies. It has forecast that “the euro area economy will contract by a record 7¾% in 2020 and grow by 6¼% in 2021. The EU economy is forecast to contract by 7½% in 2020 and grow by around 6% in 2021. Growth projections for the EU and euro area have been revised down by around nine percentage points compared to the Autumn 2019 Economic Forecast.”

Paolo Gentiloni, European Commissioner for the Economy, said: “Europe is experiencing an economic shock without precedent since the Great Depression. Both the depth of the recession and the strength of recovery will be uneven, conditioned by the speed at which lockdowns can be lifted, the importance of services like tourism in each economy and by each country's financial resources. Such divergence poses a threat to the single market and the euro area - yet it can be mitigated through decisive, joint European action. We must rise to this challenge.”

Economists’ Predictions in the near- and long-term

According to Citibank, “Second waves of crisis, trade wars and the ECB’s future reaction will likely keep EUR soft near term and upside capped medium term despite a lot of bad news in the price.”

In the long-term, analysts at CIBC expect the Euro to rise: “While euro sentiment remains compromised by the lack of political coherence, we’ve seen the ECB taking action by expanding its balance sheet. However, that move has been dwarfed by the additional supply of USD currently being injected into the market, which remains supportive for the EUR/USD pair.” They added that positive fund flows as a result of the Eurozone current account surplus will benefit the euro, despite political uncertainty.

Natixis Research expects Eurozone inflation to return in 2021 due to the “decline in productivity and the increase in unit production costs due to the new health standards taken because of the coronavirus pandemic.” In turn, the increase in inflation will lead to a rise in long-term interest rates which will support the euro.

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