Markets

Marcus Ashworth is a Bloomberg Gadfly columnist covering European markets. He spent three decades in the banking industry, most recently as chief markets strategist at Haitong Securities in London.

Bank of England Governor Mark Carney has pulled a major prop from underneath the value of the pound by slapping a dovish line on the first interest-rate hike for a decade. 

While the currency has become the barometer of the vagaries of the Brexit negotiations, it has had the underlying comfort that when the bank turned the corner on rates a steady normalization upwards would follow. 

Pounded Down
So much for rate hikes seeing sterling through the Brexit negotiations
Source: Bloomberg
Intraday times are displayed in ET.

At the bank's quarterly press conference, Carney dashed hopes that a tightening cycle had started. An important culprit here was the notable omission in today's statement of language that appeared in policy makers' September policy decision, that rates may need to rise more than the market anticipates.

A market measure of expectations for interest rates a year from now dropped 10 basis points after his appearance, suggesting bets for only one rate hike before the end of next year. A third increase is all that is further priced in over the bank's three-year policy horizon. That would put the bank's key rate at 1 percent by the end of 2020.

Changing Expectations
The Bank of England's dovish rate hike hammered expectations for future rate increases
Source: Bloomberg

The pound is now clearly at the mercy of Brexit developments. Carney was at pains to point out the "considerable risks."

Further problems in divorce negotiations could send the value of sterling back toward the bottom of the $1.20-$1.36 range seen since the referendum vote, especially if the Federal Reserve continues to raise rates. A widening gap between U.S. and U.K. benchmarks will only undermine the pound's value further.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.

To contact the author of this story:
Marcus Ashworth in London at mashworth4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Jennifer Ryan at jryan13@bloomberg.net