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Pound takes a breather after busy week

18 Jul 2016

The British pound is unchanged on Monday, after sharp losses in the Friday session. GBP/USD is currently trading at 1.3230. On the release front, it’s a very quiet start to the week.

In the UK, Rightmove HPI disappointed, posting a loss of 0.9%. Later in the day, MPC Member Martin Weale will speak about the implication of Brexit on monetary policy at an event in London. In the US, there are two small pointers on the schedule, the NAHB Housing Market Index and TIC Long-Term Purchases. On Tuesday, Britain releases CPI and other inflation indicators, while the US will publish Building Permits.

It was a volatile week for the pound, which posted strong movement during most of last week. GBP/USD slipped on Friday, losing close to 200 points. The pound has been having trouble finding its footing, and the instability could continue this week as well. Already, economic indicators are pointing to a downturn in the economy since the Brexit referendum vote in late June. Housing prices are slightly lower, while retail footfall fell in June. On Thursday, the BoE shocked the markets by maintaining interest rates. The markets had widely forecast a quarter point cut from the BoE, which would have marked the first rate cut since July 2009.

BoE Mark Carney had strongly indicated at the move when he recently stated that economic conditions had deteriorated and the BoE would need to lower rates this summer. With Carney passing on a move last week, that means there is a strong chance that the BoE will lower rates at its next policy meeting on August 4. Central banks prefer not to expose too much information, but another balk by Carney next month would hurt the credibility of the BoE, so it’s likely that we’ll see a move.

On Friday, BOE chief economist Andrew Haldane spoke in Wales, stating that the central bank needed to act “promptly as well as muscularly” in order to cushion the financial blow from Brexit. This appears to be a call for a comprehensive response, not just a quarter-point rate cut. The pound soared on Thursday after the BoE surprise, gaining 230 points, only to surrender most of those gains on Friday.

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