Pound falls against EUR after Swiss National Bank intervene

Wednesday 6th September 2011
Good morning. Sterling fell yesterday after George Osbourne gave a negative speech on UK growth. The Pound hit a 7 week low against the US Dollar, and also fell vs the Euro after the Swiss National Bank put set a floor on the EUR/CHF rate, causing the biggest one day swing in exchange rates I’ve ever seen. At 08:30am this morning, rates are as follows:

• GBP/EUR 1.1357
• GBP/USD 1.5984
• GBP/AUD 1.5076
• GBP/NZD 1.9304
• GBP/CHF 1.3702
• GBP/CAD 1.5785
• GBP/ZAR 11.346
• GBP/JPY 123.47
• GBP/DKK 8.4578
• GBP/NOK 8.5112
• EUR/USD 1.4067

Swiss National Bank intervene in exchange rate

The euro rose broadly after the SNB said yesterday it would set a minimum exchange rate target of 1.20 francs to the euro and would enforce it by buying foreign currency in unlimited quantities. Immediately after the announcement, Sterling shot up vs the Swiss Franc, as this chart illustrates:

The rate shot up from 1.28 to 1.38 in a matter of minutes, easily the biggest one day swing in exchange rates I have ever seen. Just a few weeks ago the rate was 1.17 so it has improved by a staggering 15%, of which yesterday accounted for nearly 8%.
The Euro gained on the announcement, pushing GBP/EUR rates lower, however the drop was limited by continued fears about EU debt. Against the US Dollar, the Pound also fell, as investors seek out a new safe haven now the CHF is no longer attractive.
UK Economic Outlook gloomy

Two things happened yesterday to cast doubt on the UK recovery. UK service sector data posted its biggest drop in a decade, in another sign the British economy is struggling, keeping the topic of more quantitative easing on the Bank of England’s agenda.

Secondly the chancellor George Osbourne admitted the economic recovery hopes had been revised down, following a raft of recent poor UK data.

This compounded the poor retail sales, and has put Sterling on the back foot.


The Dollar is gaining strength now the Swiss Franc is not as attractive as a safe haven. This is to the detriment of perceived weaker currencies such as the Pound and the Euro. The Euro has also gained due to the intervention of the Swiss National Bank. The net result is lower GBP/EUR and lower GBP/USD rates, and unless we get further developments from the Eurozone regarding sovereign debt, we think these declines may well continue.

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