BoE rate decision eagerly awaited

Currencies Direct November 5th 2009 - 2 minute read

Today at midday the MPC will announce the decision on interest rates and Quantitative Easing. Interest rates are almost certain to remain on hold at 0.5% with the decision on QE to take the spotlight. As today has drawn closer the expectation has escalated that the Bank of England will expand, the question is if they do by how much? The argument is that if they are going to expand then why not do GBP50 billion rather than GBP25 billion.

The reasons for expanding are very apparent; the recent dire GDP number, rising unemployment, dire public finances and banks that are still not passing on this increased liquidity. On the other hand most major economies are now looking at exit strategies from unconventional measures and there is a danger that over cooking QE could stoke inflation and lead to an inflationary problem and sharp interest rate increases to combat this. At the same time there are whispers that the Q3 GDP will be revised upwards and that Q$ GDP will show an exit from recession and a slow recovery for the UK. So the arguments and the significance of today’s decision are evident, the BoE are walking a fine tightrope and they do not want to topple either way and obviously stay on track in controlling inflation.

The implications for the currency markets today are high- volatility will be severe with the decision at midday followed by the European Central Bank decision at 12:45. If QE is expanded then this should lead to a sterling sell off, if they do not then we could see a sterling rally. The ECB are not likely to throw in any surprises today holding rates at 1% and giving little away in relation to monetary policy measures.

Last night the Federal Reserve maintained there rates and offered up no surprises with the statement to maintain “exceptionally low levels for an extended period”. They were slightly more optimistic than previously but nothing close to hawkish. The reaction therefore was to sell USD and an initial surge pushed GBP/USD towards 1.66 and EUR/USD towards 1.49 before fading in later trading. One eye would have been on today’s central bank decision suppressing the appetite of the dollar sellers. Hold on to your hats today!

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