The dollar and the pound are in the headlines today, while oil and gold are both on the rise. In the US, the FOMC has taken a cautious approach toward further rate hikes, while in Britain the chances are rising of a “Brexit” from the European Union.
Last night, the FOMC released its statement following the January policy meeting. The central bank committee said that it is, “closely monitoring global economic and financial developments” and “assessing their implications for the labor market and inflation, and for the balance of risks to the outlook.” The statement was carefully worded and clearly designed for two things: not to raise hopes of another rate hike, and not to spook investors. The Fed clearly views the global economic situation today as riskier than in December, and while they do not regret the rate hike decision, they are also not willing to follow it up right away. Economists are saying that the chance of another hike before March are down based on the FOMC statement.
Clarity into the policy makers’ thinking was good for the dollar in the markets. The greenback gained on the Euro, the pound, and the Swiss franc, and remained steady against the Japanese yen. The EUR/USD pair is trading at 1.0876, the GBP/USD has eased to 1.4250, and the USD/CHF rose slightly to 1.0163. The USD/JPY is at 118.65.
In the UK, pols see the risk of the country leaving the EU as rising, up to 35% from 30% last month. Much of the voter sentiment has been propelled not by economics but by the immigrant crisis in continental Europe, as Brits don’t like what they are seeing as 1 million migrants have put massive pressure on borders, social welfare systems, and law enforcement. Prime Minister David Cameron has signaled that referendum on EU membership could be held as early as this June.
The possibility that the UK might leave the EU is bearish for the pound and Euro both, has helped push them down in the markets. It’s a case of heads-I-win, tails-you-lose for the currencies; the dollar is stronger, while the Euro and sterling are both showing weakness.
In the commodity markets, oil and gold are both up. The precious metals are holding on to recent gains, with gold now selling for $1,118.05 per ounce, silver selling for $14.40, and platinum on the markets for $877.85. Oil is continuing its recent rally, despite the global oversupply, fueling speculation that its recent dip to $27 per barrel truly did represent a floor. US oil, WTI, is up to $31.89 and the global Brent price has risen to $32.71. It remains to be seen if the rally is sustainable or just another “dead cat bounce” like the markets showed in May and June of last year.
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