The US Federal Reserve increased interest rates by a quarter point today, also indicating that it now expects to increase rates three more times in 2017.
“In view of realised and expected labour market conditions and inflation, the committee decided to raise the target range for the federal funds rate to half to three-quarters per cent. The stance of monetary policy remains accommodative, thereby supporting some further strengthening in labour market conditions and a return to 2% inflation,” says the Federal Open Market Committee in a statement issued today.
Last year the FX market was highly event driven, with periods of sustained low volatility occasionally punctuated by large but episodic market moves.
Looking ahead to 2017 and there are already clearly some events set to take place that have the potential to drive further bursts of volatility, namely the invocation of Article 50 by Britain to begin its exit from the European Union and the scheduled political elections in France, Holland and Germany.
In addition, the change of policy direction expected under US Presidential-elect, Donald Trump, and the US Federal Reserve’s indication at the end of 2016 that it currently plans to raise rates three times this year are expected to be major drivers of the currency markets in the coming year.
Data from CLS shows that the first round of the French presidential election caused a much stronger reaction in the spot FX market than the second round.
The data shows that there was a significant spike in volumes following the first round of voting. Ahead of the vote, polls were showing a statistical tie for the top four candidates, and therefore the result was much more uncertain.
Before polling was suspended by law on Friday, 21 April 2017, Bloomberg’s composite of French polls showed Emmanuel Macron in the lead with 24.5 % and Marine Le Pen in second place with 22.5% of the vote
The euro performed well in 2017, but can it keep going? Galen Stops suggests that political factors mean that this currency could surprise markets in 2018.
This time last year, the European Union was still grappling with the fact that one of its biggest members was poised to leave the club, people were nervous about a populist, anti-EU party winning the Dutch general election, and even more nervous about a populist, anti-EU party winning the French election and presidency.
As a result, markets were – understandably – pricing a lot of risk into the Eurozone.