The beginning of April showed some really positive signs for the UK economy and therefore GBP/EUR rates, as Average Wage Growth and Unemployment figures impressed, highlighting the lowest unemployment levels seen in 43 years. However, Sterling came under increased pressure towards the end of April as the chances of an Interest Rate hike at the Bank of England’s next meeting in May rapidly diminished. A wave of poor economic data from the UK, including Inflation and Retail Sales figures disappointed during April, which was rounded off with the worst Gross Domestic Product (GDP) figure announced since 2012, falling to just 0.1%.
This shift in sentiment has meant that GBP/EUR Interbank levels have fallen by 2.3% over the last month, meaning that a £250,000 transfer in to Euros would now achieve €6,500 less than it would have at the middle of April.
As such, Economists are now predicting that the Bank of England will not make any changes to monetary policy at their next meeting on Thursday 10th May, and one of the UK’s largest Banks have predicted only a 20% chance of a rate hike at this meeting. This could mean that the Bank of England could either wait until August, or some economists are even predicting no change at all this year. It will be really interesting to see whether the Bank of England surprises the markets by raising rates in May, but if they do choose to hold off I would expect GBP/EUR to fall considerably. The minutes released shortly afterwards could provide clarity around their next moves, and will likely be a key mover for GBP/EUR exchange rates. Clients looking to buy Euros with Sterling in the short to medium term could be sensible to transfer ahead of this key announcement, as the current trend is that good news is usually creating small gains, however bad news is creating much larger losses.
Brexit negotiations are of course still ongoing and are also playing a big part in holding down the value of the Pound, in particular the subject of the UK’s relationship within the Customs Union. The divide within the Conservative Party appears to be widening, however hopes are that an agreement on whether the UK stays in the Customs Union is reached by the time of the EU Summit in June.