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Israeli new shekel forecast: ILS pares YTD losses but weakened currency may prove to be inflation driver

By Nicole Willing

Edited by Vanessa Kintu

18:29, 21 November 2022

New Israeli shekels currency - hands holding money - Israeli 100 and 200 shekel bills
The new Israeli shekel is the official currency of Israel and used as legal tender in Palestinian territories. Photo: John Theodor / Shutterstock

The Israeli new shekel (ILS) has risen against the US dollar (USD) after it fell to its lowest level since April 2020 in early November. It remains weaker than over the summer, in line with equities markets.

The foreign exchange market was anticipating that the Bank of Israel (BoI) would raise interest rates on 21 November supported by higher-than-expected inflation. The BoI raised its key rate by 50 basis points (bps) on Monday.

What is the outlook for the shekel heading into 2023? Will it be able to strengthen further or will dollar strength limit any upside? We look at the shekel’s recent performance and the latest analysts’ forecasts.

What drives the shekel’s value?

The new Israeli shekel, or Israeli shekel, is the official currency of Israel and used as legal tender in the Palestinian territories. The currency is influenced by the health of the Israeli economy and government fiscal and monetary policies. It is also driven by equities and the strength of the US dollar.

“Equities a key driver: 2022 has proved a strange year for the shekel in that when the Bank of Israel (BoI) finally turned hawkish, and with good reason, the shekel sold off along with the rest of the EMFX complex,” according to analysis by Dutch bank ING.

“Recall that for many years the BoI had been battling shekel strength with a large FX intervention campaign. Apart from widespread dollar strength, it also does seem that the shekel is very much driven by equities. Here, declines in overseas (mainly US) equities markets drive margin calls to Israeli buy-side investors and generate shekel weakness. We tentatively expect this dynamic to reverse in the second quarter of 2023.”

Shekel strengthens from two-year low against USD

The shekel strengthened against the US dollar to 3.41 on 15 November and traded at 3.47 on 21 November after the interest rate hike – from 3.58 on 3 November, which was the highest level for the USD/ILS pair since April 2020. 

The rate had climbed to 3.67 in March 2020, when the dollar soared at the start of Covid-19 lockdowns. The pair traded down to 3.23 in mid-August this year, when equity markets briefly rallied.

The USD/ILS started 2022 at 3.11, but has not been immune to the strength of the US dollar this year, rising by 11%. In its recent upturn, the shekel has found support from a global retreat in the value of the dollar as well as rising equities, prompting Israeli institutional investors to hedge their international portfolios by buying shekels.

The Israeli shekel has also been volatile against the euro in 2022, with the EUR/ILS pair starting the year at 3.51 before rising to 3.69 in February, dropping to 3.50 in April and then rebounding 3.69 in July before plummeting to 3.25 in August. The pair subsequently traded back up to 3.60 on 17 November and was trading around 3.56 on 21 November.

The inflation rate increased by 5.1% in October, reversing a decline from 5.2% in July to 4.6% in August and September.

The BoI raised the benchmark interest rate by 50 bps to 3.25% on 21 November following a 75 bps rise to 2.75% in October. 

The latest increase is the sixth hike since the central bank raised the rate from 0.1% to 0.35% in April. Economists had expected the central bank to raise the rate by 50 bps to 75 bps in Monday’s meeting in response to the higher inflation rate.

AUD/USD

0.67 Price
-0.080% 1D Chg, %
Long position overnight fee -0.0066%
Short position overnight fee -0.0016%
Overnight fee time 21:00 (UTC)
Spread 0.00006

GBP/USD

1.30 Price
+0.290% 1D Chg, %
Long position overnight fee -0.0046%
Short position overnight fee -0.0036%
Overnight fee time 21:00 (UTC)
Spread 0.00013

USD/JPY

156.30 Price
-1.260% 1D Chg, %
Long position overnight fee 0.0111%
Short position overnight fee -0.0193%
Overnight fee time 21:00 (UTC)
Spread 0.010

EUR/USD

1.09 Price
+0.370% 1D Chg, %
Long position overnight fee -0.0087%
Short position overnight fee 0.0005%
Overnight fee time 21:00 (UTC)
Spread 0.00006

The BoI said in October that it expected Israel’s gross domestic product (GDP) to grow by 6% in 2022 and 3% in 2023, even as the US and Europe are expected to enter recession. 

The inflation rate is expected to decline to 2.5% in 2023 from 4.6% in 2022. The BoI has indicated that it could end its tightening cycle around 3% and inflation should move back into its 1% to 3% target range by the end of next year. 

“The Israeli economy is recording strong economic activity, accompanied by a tight labour market and an increase in the inflation environment,” the BoI stated in announcing Monday’s rate hike, adding that gross domestic product (GDP) remains above the long-term trend.

“However, monetary policy tightening and moderation of activity abroad are expected to lead to some slowdown in economic activity in Israel as well, and a number of indicators are showing signs of the beginning of such a process… the monetary tightening processes in Israel and abroad, and the moderation of demand alongside the easing of the supply chain difficulties and the decline in commodity prices, will act to moderate inflation.”

Since the Monetary Policy Committee’s previous decision in October, the shekel strengthened by 3% against the dollar and the nominal effective exchange rate rose by 0.7%. In contrast, the shekel declined by 2.8% against the euro.

Will a further rate hike provide support to the shekel? What does the ILS forecast outlook from analysts suggest?

Israeli new shekel forecast: will the ILS rise or fall?

ING’s Israeli new shekel forecast indicated that the ILS could move back up to 3.50 against the USD by the end of 2022 and then enter a downward trend over the coming years:

“Why we like the shekel: Israel runs a 3%+ of GDP current account surplus, has strong domestic growth and a central bank not afraid to get involved in FX markets – meaning that shekel weakness will not be particularly welcome. In our experience, USD/ILS is always at the forefront of the dollar trend and if the dollar does turn in the first half of 2023 as we expect, USD/ILS should come a lot lower. Less concern over deflation by the BoI should mean that it will be more tolerant of USD/ILS breaking below 3.00 towards the end of 2023 – which could be the surprise.”

For the longer term, ING’s Israeli new shekel forecast for 2025 shows the pair declining to 2.50, from 2.75 in the first quarter of 2024.

The USD/ILS forecast from algorithm-based forecaster Wallet Investor predicted the pair could gradually trend lower over time, declining from 3.431 at the end of 2022 to 3.349 at the end of 2023, 3.186 at the end of 2025 and 3.059 in 2027.

However, the Israeli new shekel forecast for 2023 from data provider Trading Economics expects the currency to trade at 3.72 against the dollar in 12 months’ time, from 3.53 by the end of 2022, based on global macro models and analysts’ expectations.

Meanwhile, Trading Economics predicted that the shekel will be relatively stable against the euro over the next year, with its EUR/ILS prediction at 3.60330 in one year from 3.58892 by the end of this quarter.

However, Wallet Investor’s euro to Israeli new shekel forecast predicted the rate could fall from 3.556 at the end of 2022 to 3.396 in December 2023, 3.074 at the end of 2025 and 2.775 in five years’ time.

Given the volatility of the foreign currency markets, analysts have yet to issue an Israeli new shekel forecast for 2030.

Note that analysts’ predictions can be wrong. Forecasts shouldn’t be used as a substitute for your own research. Always conduct your own due diligence before trading. And never invest or trade money you cannot afford to lose.

FAQs

Has the Israeli new shekel been going up or down?

The ILS has strengthened slightly against the US dollar after falling to a two-year low, but it has weakened against the euro in recent months.

Will the Israeli new shekel get stronger in 2023?

The direction of the ILS against other currencies could depend on the Bank of Israel’s monetary policy, the strengthening of the US dollar and the performance of equity markets.

Is it a good time to buy Israeli new shekel?

Whether it is a good time for you to buy the ILS for your currency portfolio is a personal decision that only you can make depending on your risk tolerance and investing strategy. You should do your own research to take an informed view of the market. Remember to never invest more money than you can afford to lose.

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