The pound made gains against a host of major currencies on Thursday, following comments from Bank of England’s policy maker Ian McCafferty to begin unwinding the BoE’s quantitative easing programme.
At 10:23 BST, GBP/USD was 1.2929, the pound was up 0.36% on the dollar from a previous session close of 1.288.
McCafferty, a BoE hawk, has already called for a quarter point increase in interest rates in the coming MPC meeting in August. He was also one of the three MPC members to vote for a hike in June. This is the first time a policy maker from the BoE has spoken of a need to reverse the current QE programme.
Under the Bank’s policy, interest rates would need to be far higher in order to begin unwinding the QE programme.
Employment figures released on Wednesday saw a recovery for sterling’s losses from the previous week. A hat-trick of poor PMI figures last week sent the pound plummeting. Wednesday’s data showed unemployment at its lowest rate for 42 years, a reduction in jobless claims and average earnings as forecast.
In her testimony to Congress on Wednesday, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen reiterated comments released in the FOMC meeting minutes from June that rate hikes would be gradual and the focus would be on balance sheet reduction. Her dovish comments sent the dollar to near nine month lows.
The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback’s strength against a trade-weighted basket of six major currencies, was down just 0.05% to 95.50.
The euro plunged to 0.8821 against the pound, down 0.41%. EUR/GBP was down following a host of euro-zone inflation data. This comes despite speculation over the European Central Bank’s move to tighten its ultra-loose monetary policy.
Sterling performed well against safe haven currencies on Thursday. GBP/JPY was up 0.28% at 146.20, while GBP/CHF was 1.2475, a gain of 0.31%.
The Loonie made 13 month highs on Wednesday after a hawkish move from the Bank of Canada to increase interest rates for the fist time in seven years. Despite this, GBP/CAD was up 0.18% at 1.6458 on Thursday.
The pound dropped against other commodity currencies, GBP/NZD was down 0.37% at 1.7683, while the pound made similar losses against the Australian dollar. GBP/AUD was down 0.29% at 1.6734.
Prime Minister Theresa May has a tough day ahead of her in parliament as she will try to pass the Repeal Bill: legislation that will cut political and legal ties with the European Union and turn the existing EU law into British law.
The opposition Labour Party has already spoken out against supporting the bill, leaving the PM, with only a 9-seat governing majority, at the mercy of her back-benchers. This has been seen as the first big test of her ability to lead the country since the snap election shock result.
Investors are looking at Friday’s inflation figures for the U.S. as this may influence Fed policy and determine when the next rate hike will be.