1. The Monetary Policy outlook for the BOE

The Sep policy meeting from the BoE saw money markets rushing to price in a much faster and more aggressive policy path than previously expected. Even though this of course falls in line with our bullish bias for the Pound, we do think the market is a bit too aggressive too quick right now. The bank did explain that they now see inflation above 4% by Q4 of this year, and the possibility of more sticky inflation was the key reasons why we saw a 7-2 QE vote split with Saunders and Ramsden both dissenting to cut purchases. However, it’s important to note that the remaining 7 members still see inflation as transitory, and the fact that they expect CPI above 4% means any prints that don’t come close to that poses downside risks. Furthermore, even though the bank said their expectations of modest tightening has strengthened, the admitted that lots of uncertainties remain. A big one of these is the labour market, where even though the number of furloughed staff have decreased, that decrease has materially slowed from August which poses more uncertainty for the labour market. Thus, even though our bias remains unchanged, and we see the bank lifting rates in Q1, we do think the over optimistic moves in money markets poses short-term headwinds.

2. The country’s economic developments

The successful vaccination program that allowed the UK to open up faster and sooner than peers provided a favourable environment for Sterling and the strength of the economic recovery has meant solid growth differentials favouring GBP. However, a lot of these positives are arguably priced, and the recent slowdown in activity data that suggests peak growth has been reached could mean an uphill push for GBP to see the same size of outperformance we saw earlier. With our above comments about money markets, it also means that there is now more risk to downside surprises than was the case a few months ago. Even though the current fuel challenges should not be enough to derail the economic recovery, the NatGas shortage is much more serious and if not resolved quickly could add to some additional price pressures which in the past few sessions have seen even more aggressive pricing from money markets for additional tightening.

3. Political Developments

Even though a Brexit deal was reached at the end of last year, some issues like the Northern Ireland protocol remains, and with neither side willing to budge right now it seems like a never ending can kicking could see these issues drag on for a long time. For now, Sterling has looked through all the rigmarole and should continue to do so as long as the cans are kicked down the road.

4. CFTC Analysis

Latest CFTC data showed a positioning change of -21982 with a net non-commercial position of -20018. Sterling have seen a very impressive rebound following last week’s sell off. Right now, large speculators and leveraged funds are at odds with each other, with large speculators holding a net-short and leveraged funds still sitting on the largest net-long among the majors. Markets reacted positively to new Chief Economist Pill’s comments about inflation , which yet again sparked additional downside in SONIA futures , with money markets pricing in a 10-basis point hike in the next two months and more than 70 basis points of tightening in 2022. So, even though this amount of tightening should be positive for a currency, the reasons why the markets are pricing in the steeper rate path is out of fear of inflation and not due to a more positive economic outlook, which as we highlighted above does pose headwinds for the Pound in the weeks ahead.



1. Developments surrounding the global risk outlook.

As a safe-haven currency, the market’s risk outlook is the primary driver for the CHF with Swiss economic data or SNB policy meetings rarely being very market moving. Although SNB intervention can have a substantial impact on CHF, its impact tends to be relatively short-lived. Additionally, the SNB are unlikely to adjust policy anytime soon, given their overall dovish disposition and preference for being behind the ECB in terms of policy decisions. The market’s overall risk tone improved considerably after the pandemic as a result of the global vaccine roll out and the unprecedented amount of monetary policy accommodation and fiscal support from governments. The Delta variant and subsequent impact on growth expectations is of course a sobering reminder that risks remain. Thus, there is still a degree of uncertainty and risks to the overall risk outlook remains which could prove supportive for the safe havens like the CHF should negative factors for the global economy develop. However, on balance the overall risk outlook is still positive in the med-term and barring any major meltdowns in risk assets the bias for the CHF remains bearish in the med-term .

2. Idiosyncratic drivers for the CHF

Despite the negative drivers, the CHF saw some surprisingly strength from June. This divergence from the fundamental outlook didn’t make much sense, but the CHF often has a mind of its own and can often move in opposite directions from what short-term sentiment or its fundamental outlook suggests. Recent research from the team has revealed an interesting correlation between the CHF and simultaneous price action in both Gold and the USD which could explain some of the recent price action. We also need to be careful of the possibility of SNB FX intervention. Apart from that, ING investment bank has recently argued that recent CHF strength could be due to the lower inflation in Switzerland compared to the EU which meant that the real trade-weighted CHF has been trading too cheap. They also expanded that the ECB’s bond buying has meant that their balance sheet is expanding more rapidly compared to that of the SNB, which could have been reasons why the SNB did not see the need for any meaningful FX intervention lately. The bottom line is that there are often plenty of idiosyncratic drivers which might or might not impact the CHF and makes short-term price fluctuations a mixed bag for the most part.

3. CFTC Analysis

Latest CFTC data showed a positioning change of -4092 with a net non-commercial position of -15679. The CHF positioning continued to unwind some of its recent surprising strength over the past few weeks. The CHF is back inside net-short territory as one would expect from a currency with an overall med-term bearish outlook. Even though we expect the currency to continue weakening in the med-term , any drastic escalation in risk off tones could continue to provide support for the safe-haven currency in the short-term and is always something to keep in mind.

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