Heads up, forex fellas! The British pound might be gearing up to steal the show on Thursday with the BOE statement and MPC minutes lined up.
Here are some things to watch out for:
More words of caution from Carney?
In their December monetary policy statement, BOE Governor Mark Carney wasn’t his usual upbeat self as he reiterated that the central bank isn’t likely to hike interest rates anytime soon, contrary to their earlier predictions of tightening during the first half of this year.
Policymakers also highlighted the drop in oil prices and the lackluster wage growth as two major factors keeping a lid on inflation.
Fast forward a month later, oil prices have tumbled even lower, and global equity markets seem poised for another brutal performance. These could give head honcho Carney more reason to sound dovish this time, possibly pushing rate hike expectations towards the end of 2016 or early next year.
Weaker inflation outlook
The BOE’s switch to a less hawkish stance was actually more evident back in November last year and, mind you, WTI crude oil prices were still above $44/barrel then.During their December meeting, oil was down to around $36/barrel – still a pretty decent price compared to this week’s $31/barrel levels. Duhn duhn duhn…
BOE officials have also expressed concerns about how employers are refraining from increasing wages in order to maintain profitability in a low inflation environment.
Still, the minutes of their December meeting suggested that they’re keeping their fingers crossed that this behavior would be reversed in due course. I’m inclined to think that the recent commodity price declines might dampen this outlook, though.
Comments on China’s slowdown, EU exit
Last week’s global stock market rout wound up wiping off roughly 44 billion GBP in value from FTSE 100 investors’ pockets, hurting business and consumer confidence in the United Kingdom.
In mid-2015, the BOE didn’t appear to be too unnerved by the emerging markets slowdown, but you have to keep in mind that this recent selloff comes at a time when Britain is mulling an exit from the European Union and trying to see if it can stand on its own feet.
Prime Minister David Cameron has hinted that a referendum on their membership in the EU could take place this year, which suggests that the BOE is much less likely to make drastic changes in its policy bias ahead of this huge economic risk.
What’s next for GBP forex pairs?
If BOE officials throw in more downbeat remarks in their upcoming policy statement, the British pound could be in for a sharp forex selloff, even against the commodity currencies.
As you’ve probably noticed, pound crosses such as GBP/AUD or GBP/NZD have rallied in the past few days mostly due to comdoll weakness, which means that these pairs might have plenty of room to fall if the U.K. central bank admits that they’re on rocky ground as well.
On the other hand, reassuring remarks from BOE Governor Carney could keep the pound afloat, especially since the U.K. economy has been benefiting from funds flowing out of China and into European markets.