IFX Market Report: Thursday 12th March 2020

Sterling held on to most of its earlier gains on Wednesday after the British government unveiled a 30-billion-pound economic stimulus plan, hours after the Bank of England cut interest rates to lift the struggling economy.

In a significant response to tackle the risk of a coronavirus-fuelled recession, the government announced the plan as part of an investment surge after the central bank cut its key policy rate to 0.25%, lifting the pound from a one-week low hit in the previous session.

While a spurt of buying sent the pound up as much 0.7% on the dollar in early trading, the momentum subsided by the budget announcement leaving the British currency up only 0.4% on the day as the interest rate cuts were more significant than expected. The move, which chopped half a percentage point off the benchmark lending rate, took it back to a record low 0.25%. It was the Bank of England's first out-of-schedule cut since the global financial crisis in 2008.

Against the euro, its performance was more lacklustre, with the currency pair trading broadly steady.

GBPUSD opened at 1.2916 and reached a high of 1.2958 in the early afternoon before sliding to close at 1.2861 but reaching a low of 1.2818 later in the evening

GBPEUR opened at 1.1389 and performed similarly, hitting a high of 1.1473 before sliding to close at 1.1405. The pair hit a low of 1.1364 later

The U.S. dollar dropped on Wednesday against the Japanese yen and Swiss franc, in line with the broader stock market's dive. Fears over the spreading coronavirus pushed investors into safe havens, even as sterling fluctuated between gains and losses after the Bank of England unexpectedly cut interest rates. Against a basket of currencies, the dollar was up 0.2%.

Central banks and governments around the world are hurrying to limit the economic damage of the coronavirus outbreak.

Investors were also disappointed as President Donald Trump made no major announcements on stimulus measures. Expectations that Trump will unveil a significant stimulus plan had bolstered risk appetite on Tuesday and prompted investors to move away from safer assets temporarily.

The dollar was down sharply against the safe-haven yen and Swiss franc. It lost 0.9%, falling more than a full yen from Tuesday's high of 105.915. The dollar also fell 0.2% against the Swiss franc, while the euro was little changed.

Money markets are fully pricing in a further ten basis-point cut by the European Central Bank when it meets today.

EURUSD opened at 1.1330 and was steady for most of the day before dropping in the late afternoon to close at a low of 1.1271

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