There was plenty of activity impacting the markets over the past few days. Although we can expect a quieter week ahead, there is still plenty for traders to focus on. Last week there was the widely expected rate increase from the Bank of England – only the second base rate rise since the financial crisis. Whilst this did give a very short-term boost to the value of the pound, the currency closed on Friday not far off its lowest level versus the US dollar in 11 months.
UK GDP data will be released at the end of this week. Some growth is expected; however, the current sentiment is quite poor towards the British currency. This sentiment is especially reinforced by a looming no-deal Brexit. These factors have caused some analysts to wonder just what needs to happen to start some sort of recovery. Simply put, nothing seems to be working at the moment.
Across the pond, there was the release of the latest US unemployment data at the end of last week. The numbers came in slightly below analysts' expectations, yet they convey an impression of a robust US economy. Regardless of the major falls in the technology sector – Facebook's 20% plunge has been great for headline writers over the past few weeks – these have done nothing to affect the positive outlook for the wider stock market. We started this week with the broader US index, the S&P500, within a few percent of January's all-time highs – don't be surprised if these are broken in the weeks ahead.
After 2017 ended up being its worst year for the USD for more than a decade, recent months continue to see a resurgence for the popular currency. This strength, plus the bounce back for stock markets since March has meant that gold remains out of favour with investors. The double whammy of both rising stocks and a US dollar saw the yellow metal hit its lowest price since March 2017, trading towards the $1200 per ounce mark. In the past this has proved to be something of a key turning point for gold – so although it is still weak, it could be one to watch overcoming the weeks.
In sum, there are no shocking surprises in both currencies’ trends. The current valuations seem to reflect the political developments in Europe, as well as the financial calendar in the United States. There’s no doubt that any sign of volatility will be scrutinized by analysts.