Sterling slips as dollar regains footing

The British currency jumped the most since mid-June after the Bank of England announced an emergency bond-buying plan

Reuters
Published : 29 Sept 2022, 05:19 AM
Updated : 29 Sept 2022, 05:19 AM

Sterling fell on Thursday and the US dollar was clawing back a recent dip as relief at the Bank of England's intervention in bond markets faded in the face of nagging doubts about Britain's economic management and the outlook for global growth.

The British currency jumped the most since mid-June on Wednesday after the BoE announced an emergency bond-buying plan to shore up a gilt market that had been in freefall with the pound.

But sterling GBP=D3 was 0.8% lower at $1.0798 by mid-session in Asia and the euro EUR=EBS weakened 0.6% to $0.9679, as the US dollar regained its footing.

"The BoE's bond purchases may temper the UK government's borrowing costs but have not resolved the tensions between fiscal loosening and monetary tightening," Carol Kong, a strategist at Commonwealth Bank of Australia, wrote in a note.

"Concerns about the UK's fiscal plan and its broader economy suggest sterling will likely stay offered against the dollar and other major currencies in the near term."

Sterling plummeted to a record low of $1.0327 on Monday as investors delivered a scathing verdict on Britain's plans for tax cuts funded by a massive increase in borrowing at the same time as the BoE is struggling to rein in inflation.

Appearances from Bank of England officials David Ramsden, Silvana Tenreyro and Huw Pill later on Thursday will be closely watched and as will an address by finance minister Kwasi Kwarteng to his Conservative Party on Monday.

"Sterling is not out of the woods," said DBS currency strategist Philip Wee. "The BoE is seen addressing the symptom and not the cause."

"The ... government has yet to address the credibility of the tax cut plans, which critics see adding to the inflation woes."

KING DOLLAR

The backdrop to the pound's problems is a runaway dollar, and the brevity of its drop on Wednesday suggests traders are not really willing to sustain much dollar selling yet.

The US dollar index =USD, which measures the greenback against sterling, the euro and four other major peers, had its worst session in more than two years overnight but bounced 0.3% to 113.31 and isn't far below its 20-year high of 114.78.

Official pushback is growing stronger, particularly in Asia where Japan, South Korea, India and Indonesia have been intervening in financial markets, to varying degrees, to support their currencies and asset prices.

The Japanese currency pair has kept on the stronger side of 145 per dollar since the government sold dollars to support the yen for the first time in decades last week. It was down marginally at 144.31 per dollar on Thursday.

Dollar selling has slowed the slide of India's rupee INR=D3, though it broke to the weaker side of 80 per dollar this week and made a record low of 82 on Wednesday. The rupiah IDR=ID and won KRW=KFTC remain under pressure.

"These stabilisation efforts from policymakers around the world can help to restore market confidence and provide a temporary breather for risk assets," said Christopher Wong, currency strategist at OCBC Bank in Singapore.

"But ultimately, the strong USD trend still needs to dissipate for currency markets to take a more meaningful breather."

Elsewhere, the risk-sensitive Australian dollar AUD=D3 sank 0.7% to $0.6478. A new measure of consumer prices showed annual inflation eased a bit from August to July, offering hope that cost pressures might be close to a peak.

New Zealand's currency dropped 0.8% to $0.5685.

Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher