FX Update: BoE response rather muted, but big hikes still baked in. FX Update: BoE response rather muted, but big hikes still baked in. FX Update: BoE response rather muted, but big hikes still baked in.

FX Update: BoE response rather muted, but big hikes still baked in.

John Hardy

Head of FX Strategy, Saxo Bank Group

Summary:  The Bank of England’s response to the downdraft in sterling since late last week was rather lacking, as the bank merely indicated it will address the situation at the next regularly scheduled meeting. They may not have that luxury unless this brightening of global risk sentiment that has materialized overnight has legs. Elsewhere, traders continue to steer clear of challenging Japan’s Ministry of Finance on intervention despite a fresh surge in US treasury yields yesterday.

FX Trading focus: Bank of England response to sterling crisis rather muted, but a broad sentiment shift might keep them off the hook near term.

The Bank of England’s response yesterday to the enormous downdraft in sterling was not as dramatic as those looking for a kneejerk hike this week might have expected. The Bank issued a short statement, which merely indicated that it is aware of what the government is doing and will take that and sterling’s moves into consideration at the next regularly scheduled meeting on November 3. Perhaps the phrase that it “will not hesitate to change interest rates by as much as needed to return inflation to the 2% target” that saved sterling from a further pounding just yet. There are two ways to look at this: the BoE doesn’t want to be seen as panicking and jerked around by market developments. On the other hand, it would have been more hawkish to avoid mention of the next regularly scheduled meeting to suggest that we might infer a rate hike is possible at any time if the sterling volatility worsens again. In support of sterling, the overall rate expectation for the November 3 meeting remains pinned just below 150 basis points this morning, a very large rate hike indeed when your policy rate is 2.25%. We may not have seen the cycle low in sterling, but in the nearest term, a rally in risk sentiment can keep sterling in consolidation mode tactically after the trauma of the last couple of sessions.

Remarkable to see USDCAD extending the rally yesterday at an even more rapid pace than the one established over the last couple of weeks, the kind of price action one often associates with at least a temporary climax in the trend. A fresh sell-off in oil prices added to the pressure on CAD and NOK as well. But that trend has extended so far and so quickly that the USDCAD pair can easily retrace to 1.3500 without meaningfully softening the up-surge, and today’s price action suggesting we may avoid a correction even to that level. Since the early 2000’s, USDCAD has only traded above yesterday’s 1.3800+ highs on two occasions – for a couple of months when oil collapsed during the pandemic outbreak in the spring of 2020 and during a short episode during the USD peak of late 2015/early 2016. The coming recession may prove more vicious in Canada relative to the US, given very elevated private debt levels in Canada, much of it associated with housing. Mortgage financing is generally 25 year mortgages that roll every 5 years. That 5-year mortgage rate has risen to levels similar to the US 30-year rate around/above 6%. In the US, the vast majority of mortgages are 30-year fixed, meaning no real impact for most homeowners who are staying put with existing mortgages, but a far faster and greater impact on Canadian mortgage holders who must roll to the new and suddenly vastly higher rates.

Source: Saxo Group

As discussed in this morning’s Saxo Market Call podcast, it will be very interesting to watch the evolution in the US Consumer Confidence survey of the spread between the Present Situation and Expectations components, which reached their lowest levels since 2001 in July. The latest September survey is up today. Typically this spread bottoms out and is rising quickly as the US economy is tilting into recession. As this survey is historically closely correlated with the labor market, any rise in the spread would likely be preceded by a couple of months of clearly rising jobless claims. On that front, we hit record lows in claims (adj. for population) back in March, followed by a significant surge into July. Since then, the lower claims suggest a still-strong labor market, but another turn and rise above a 250k weekly run puts us on a countdown toward a recession and peak Fed tightening expectations. We are likely at an inflection point in Q4 as the real wear on the economy from policy tightening is picking up pace, given the 9-12 month lag of policy, which may be more compressed this time given the vicious pace of the tightening once it got underway. It’s remarkable to recall that the Fed only achieved lift-off from effective zero in March, with treasury yields beginning to surge, however, already in late 2021 and accelerating higher in January.

Table: FX Board of G10 and CNH trend evolution and strength.
Nothing much new here, but the readings are extreme in USD strength and GBP weakness, while development around the edges are interesting, including whether the broad JPY bounceback can hold and the degree of relative weakness in CNH as the key 7.20 level approaches in USDCNH and the jockeying amongst the G-10 smalls.

Source: Bloomberg and Saxo Group

Table: FX Board Trend Scoreboard for individual pairs.
NOKSEK is pressing on a major level at 1.0500 as cratering oil prices and crazy messaging from the Norges Bank have NOK under pressure – crazy volatility in today’s session, by the way. Elsewhere, note the pump and reversal in AUDNZD – was that at least a temporary top for now there?

Source: Bloomberg and Saxo Group

Upcoming Economic Calendar Highlights

  • 1100 – UK Bank of England Chief Economist Pill to speak
  • 1100 – ECB's Villeroy to speak
  • 1130 – Fed Chair Powell to speak on digital currencies
  • 1230 – US Aug. Preliminary Durable Goods Orders 
  • 1300 – US Jul. S&P CoreLogic Home Prices
  • 1355 – US Fed’s Bullard (voter 2022) to speak
  • 1400 – US Sep. Consumer Confidence
  • 1400 – US Aug. New Home Sales
  • 1700 – US 5-year Treasury Auction
  • 1700 – US Fed’s Kashkari (voter 2023) to speak
  • 2350 – Japan Bank of Japan meeting minutes
  • 0130 – Australia Aug. Retail Sales 


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