Last week volatility increased sharply in sterling related markets as once again Brexit dominated the headlines and airwaves. With this weekend’s talks spilling over into this week, a renewed sense of optimism returned. Sterling has bounced strongly off its lows as a no-deal outcome seemingly has receded slightly. After a week where a no-deal loomed, we now have another two possible outcomes, either a deal at the death or a possible extension beyond the 31st December. With so many imponderables and personalities at play, the rumour mill will no doubt be working over-time. Sterling will remain highly volatile, and thin markets will heighten it as we enter into the Christmas period.
Away from Brexit, our focus will be on Central banks over the next few days. Last week the ECB increased the length of its monetary accommodation into the first half of 2022. By doing this, they are hoping that their policies can act as a bridge till vaccines have restored some sense of normality to the Eurozone economies. This coming Wednesday, we will get to see how the Federal Reserve is planning to react to the rising tide of both COVID-19 and unemployment in the United States. On Thursday it will be the Bank of England’s last chance to change policy before the year-end.
After the weekend’s talks seemingly ended in a score draw, we enter the last full week of trading still unsure of the trade negotiation outcome. After a weekend where sterling moved by over 1% back to £1.3325 and thin trading in prospect, we again expect to see highly volatile markets. Away from Brexit, we have quite a busy data docket. The latest Unemployment data will be released tomorrow, Inflation figures for November on Wednesday and Retail Sales on Friday. The most important event will be on Thursday when the Bank of England will hold its last regular policy meeting of the year. This meeting falls just a fortnight ahead of the year-end when we could still find the UK ending its transition out of the European Union without a future trade deal. The BoE is likely to leave both rates and QE (Quantitative Easing policies) as they are this month. Governor Andrew Bailey has hinted at a move to negative interest rates, but this is unlikely. If the BoE decides to move rates into negative territory sterling would decline sharply.
The euro is of course affected by the Brexit uncertainty every bit as much as sterling and has opened this morning at €1.2125. Over the weekend Germany announced a hard lockdown over the Christmas period and this may cap and advance by the euro. Derivative traders are also taking a negative view of the currency as the premium for puts (the right to sell euros) has been increasing. The derivative moves may be traders buying protection for year-end as demand for dollars increases. Away from waiting on Brexit headlines, we will be watching October Industrial Production today and then the first look at the December PMIs for the Eurozone, on Wednesday. The recent lockdowns have hurt the service sector more than most and analysts aren’t expecting too strong a rebound.
After last week’s weaker US payrolls number there does, at last, appear to have been progress with the discussions over a new $916bn stimulus package. Whilst these negotiations drag on there is at least the good news that a vaccination program is starting across the United States. With 2021 rapidly approaching there is potential for disruptions to the market caused by year-end rebalancing. With US stock markets having risen sharply, there could well be a demand for dollars as banks need to balance their books. Away from the repercussions of Brexit, we will be watching out for the Federal Open Market Committee meeting on Wednesday. A dovish message is expected from this meeting but with no great changes to its policy. On the US data docket, we will be keeping an eye on November Industrial Production on Tuesday, Retail Sales on Wednesday and Thursday will see the weekly release of unemployment data.
The Swedish Krona had another volatile week against most G10 currencies. This was mainly caused by Riksbank comments about the possibility of negative interest rates in the future should they be deemed needed. It remains the best performing currency of this year within that group, and the macro data from last week was encouraging too. Inflation remains stubbornly low, but the Riksbank does not seem too worried as it tries to put out other more urgent fires. This week is relatively thin from a data perspective with the unemployment rate being the only important set of data out on Thursday. Loyal readers of our report are fully aware that December is normally SEK positive, and data compiled demonstrates that SEK has strengthened on average 1.1% between 11-Dec and 31-Dec since 2009. In other words, we have entered what should be a SEK bullish period.
Over in Norway, it looks as if the Norwegian Krone is going to claim the opposite title and be crowned the worst performing G10 currency of the year. Apart from oil, Norway’s economy is mainly driven by its high-end fishing produce. With lockdowns and restaurant closures, the industry has suffered throughout 2020. Despite that, the market is not looking for the Norges Bank to deliver any surprises on Thursday when the Deposit rate is set. It is expected to stay at 0.00%. We will also closely monitor the unemployment rate, which is out the day after.
The aussie dollar looks set to continue benefitting from the recent rise in Iron Ore prices as well as the weaker dollar, but like all beta currencies, it may suffer from the fallout from Brexit as well as its ongoing spat with China with the Australian wine industry now targeted. We will be watching its close neighbour, the kiwi when third-quarter growth data is released this week where the consensus is for a strong rebound. Their cousin, the Canadian dollar, should continue to benefit from a global rebound as Oil recovers and their inflation figures are released on Wednesday. The Swiss franc could see some volatility as the ramifications of any new Brexit negotiations are felt. The Swiss National Bank will as always will be watching from the sidelines and will not be afraid to intervene to maintain an orderly market.