Forex markets focus on Powell’s speech later

Chris Lee

The foreign exchange markets spent Wednesday morning readying themselves for a speech from the Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, who is due to speak on Wednesday afternoon.

The speech is set to come amid speculation that the Federal Reserve may be considering the implementation of negative interest rates, a potential move that is also being considered elsewhere in the world.

In the US context, negative rates are something that President Donald Trump has suggested and indeed even encouraged the Federal Reserve to do.

The money markets in the US are already beginning to price in a chance of negative rates, it is believed.

It comes after even more gloomy economic data from the US revealing just how deep the coronavirus pandemic has cut.

Consumer prices in the country, for example, were revealed on Tuesday to have gone down by 0.8% in the month of April.

This reflects the most significant drop since the Great Recession.

Whether or not Powell will address the question of negative rates in his afternoon speech, however, remains to be seen.

Currently, Japan has negative interest rates, though the jury is out on whether or not this has been a positive development.

Powell is set to speak as part of a webcast – this is expected to take place at 1pm GMT.

The webcast will be hosted by the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

In the markets, the US dollar was trading at 107.21 yen against the Japanese currency.

This reflected a drop from Tuesday’s high point of 107.76, which was its highest position since mid-April.

The single European currency was on the market for $1.0848 at one stage.

In the session before, it had gone up by almost half a percentage point.

Elsewhere around the world, the Australian dollar – which is widely known for being a currency that is favoured during pro-risk moments – was resting at $0.6476 at one stage.

This reflected not much change compared to its position across the rest of the day.

It was, however, away from the weekly high point it reached on Monday, which was $0.6562.

Over in New Zealand, meanwhile, the dollar was down by 0.6% and reached $0.6036 at one stage.

This was its lowest point this week.

Specific circumstances relating to interest rates were in play here, however.

New Zealand is one of the countries of the world that appears to be exploring the topic of negative interest rates.

Its central bank also said this week that it would build on its asset purchasing programme.

In the UK, the pound was spotted in its worst state in about five weeks against the dollar.

It was at $1.2269 at one stage – a development that came after it was revealed that Britain is now the hardest hit country in Europe when it comes to the virus.

This stood amid widespread confusion in the country about the nature of the lockdown ending process, which was announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson earlier in the week.

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