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.