Now that most of the major central banks have released their monetary policy decisions, it’s time to take a closer look at each one of them and review how their announcements have affected their domestic currencies:
Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA)
As expected, the RBA kept its interest rates at 1.75% after cutting it by 25 basis points in May. What market players didn’t expect though was that Governor Glenn Stevens and his gang would be less dovish than they initially thought.
In its statement, the RBA mentioned that its low interest rate policy is supporting domestic demand as well as the trading sector. Not only that, but growth is also continuing despite the “very large” declines in business investment.
On inflation, the RBA says that it’s “quite low” and is expected to remain so in the near future as weak labor costs and global cost pressures keep a lid on consumer price increases. The Aussie ended up spiking at least 50 pips higher across the board and remained near its intraday highs for the rest of the day.
Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ)
The RBNZ paved the way for the Kiwi bulls after it kept its rates unchanged at 2.25% instead of cutting it by 25 bps as many had expected. The central bank had also upgraded its 2017 inflation projections, saying that the RBNZ’s low rates, expected increases in oil prices, and the expected declines in the value of the Kiwi could all push consumer prices higher.
What caught the investors’ attention was RBNZ Governor Graeme Wheeler basically nixing the idea of another rate cut. While he said that he and his friends could still cut their rates at least once more this year, he also said that the move is dependent on New Zealand’s economy, Kiwi strength, and inflation expectations. The prospect of steady rates for the rest of the year boosted the Kiwi, enough to get momentum to last a few trading sessions.
The most anticipated event of the week turned out to be a mixed bag of nuts as the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) members decided to keep its rates steady, upgrade its inflation forecasts, and downgrade its growth and interest rate projections.
In the presser that followed, Fed head honcho Janet Yellen hinted that the downgrades in GDP projections were due to risks such as sluggish business investment, a possible Brexit, and a weaker-than-expected labor market. Meanwhile, their inflation estimates were upgraded on the back of expected improvements in the labor market and the fading away of the “transitory effects” in energy prices.
What really mattered to forex traders was that the central bank is less likely to raise its rates than they initially expected. The Fed’s dot plot charts, for example, now show that there are fewer FOMC members expecting at least two rate hikes for this year and the next. The dovish news hit the Greenback the most, as it erased most of its intraweek gains against its major counterparts.
Bank of Japan (BOJ)
The BOJ joined the wait-and-see camp after it kept its interest rates at -0.10% and its annual asset purchases at 80 trillion JPY. The central bank pointed to the growth uncertainty in the emerging economies (*cough* China *cough*) and the developed ones such as the Euro Zone and the U.S. Apparently, their weaknesses have affected Japan’s exports and production numbers.
The move to wait was a widely expected one especially since the BOJ had just implemented its negative interest rate policy a few months back and because Japan is about to hold an election next month. Still, the lack of new stimulus programs fueled the yen’s rallies, which had already been taking advantage of the broad risk aversion sentiment at the time of the BOJ’s release.
Swiss National Bank (SNB)
It’s 5 for 5 for the major central banks! Yesterday the SNB also decided to keep its policies unchanged. Its deposit rate is maintained at -0.75% while the LIBOR target range is kept at -1.25% to -0.25%. SNB Governor Thomas Jordan also stuck to the previous months’ script and maintained the stance that the franc is “significantly overvalued.”
The SNB had also raised its inflation estimates for 2016 and 2017, citing the expected increases in oil prices. The central bank also held its GDP forecasts steady. However, in an interview, the SNB boss warned that the SNB’s projections are likely to change in the event of a Brexit. Duhn duhn duhn. The franc managed to catch more pips against its counterparts though the move might have been more about risk aversion than the SNB’s decision.
Bank of England (BOE)
Rounding up this batch of central bank announcements is the BOE, which also elected to keep its current policies unchanged. The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) has unanimously voted (0-0-9) to keep its rates at 0.50% while its asset purchases are still at 375B GBP.
The MPC gang spent some time talking about the pound, saying that they’re expecting (or is it wishing?) the currency to fall further on the back of the U.K.’s worsening trade, productivity, and higher risk premium.
Perhaps the most important bits from the release though, are the highly anticipated warnings against a Brexit. According to the central bank, the issue remains to be the biggest risk for the U.K. as well as the global financial markets.
A Brexit could lead to sharp selloffs for the pound and a challenge for the BOE to balance stable inflation while boosting output and employment. Wondering why Carney isn’t as aggressive as he was last month? Well, it’s probably because he got rapped on the knuckles when he dropped the “R” bomb.