The euro rose briefly in response to a decision by the ECB to expand its asset purchase program by €750 billion at least until the end of 2020. In any other conditions, such actions of the regulator could easily drown the single European currency. It is expected that the Central Bank will inject about €1 trillion of cheap liquidity into the markets more than ever. However, when the USD index sets records in response to the Fed's aggressive monetary expansion, there is nothing to be surprised at.
The US Central Bank's reduction in federal funds rates by 100 basis points at once should have weakened the greenback. However, due to increased fears about the economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic and increased leaps and bounds volatility, investors rushed to buy American currency. Some needed cash to prevent margin calls, others found the stocks extremely cheap and set about forming long-term "longs" for the US dollar.
Against this background, the USD index reached maximum levels since March 2017, rising above 100 points.
According to Goldman Sachs, the rally of the USD index reflects the unique role of the American currency in the global economy and the global financial system, and not the assumption that the United States is more resistant to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic than other countries.
Nevertheless, the downward trend in EUR / USD is due to more modest losses in the US economy compared to the European one. According to experts of JP Morgan, in the first quarter, the US GDP will decrease by 4% in annual terms, and 14% by second quarter, while the eurozone economy will decline by 15% and 22%, respectively.
The EUR / USD rebound in response to the expansion of the European QE turned out to be nothing more than a respite for the bears. They quite easily reached the target at 1.0850 and, it seems as if it is not going to stop there.
The British currency sank to its lowest level against the US dollar over the past 35 years, except for the sudden failure in October 2016, which led to a short-term fall of the GBP / USD pair to 1.1450.
Along with questions about the timing and extent of the coronavirus pandemic, investors are puzzling over how the trade negotiations between London and Brussels will end. If we add to this the vulnerability of the UK economy to external risks, then the pound rolling into the abyss looks quite natural.
Speculators began to reduce the longs in sterling, which they opened earlier this year. Apparently, they believed that the British currency would win in 2020, as the uncertainty surrounding the exit of UK from the EU began to decline after Prime Minister Boris Johnson received an absolute majority in the national parliament. However, since then, the spread of the coronavirus globally and efforts to contain it have cast doubt on the prospects for economic growth in the UK, and those who used to bet on the pound's strength are now forced to throw a white flag.
"The market now seems set to bet on a further depreciation of the sterling," said Jordan Rochester, currency strategist at Nomura.
According to Paul Robeson of NatWest Markets, dollar growth was the biggest obstacle to the pound.
"Apparently, there is a fierce struggle for dollars on the market. The deficit of dollars has exacerbated the scale of sterling losses in comparison with if it would fall solely for its own reasons, "he said.
"The main reason for the increase in demand for the American currency is liquidity problems, since in unstable times companies and investors need dollars to settle transactions. As long as these concerns remain, we expect the pound to remain on the defensive, "said UBS Wealth Management strategists.
The British currency is also under pressure from uncertainty about the future relations between the EU and the UK. The country officially left the alliance at the end of January, but both sides remain in a transitional period, when relations are maintained until the end of the year, while negotiations are underway on a trade deal.
Even before the start of the coronavirus pandemic, this schedule looked tough, given the scale of trade relations that would need to be addressed. As the death toll from the virus in the United Kingdom increases, analysts now believe that the country will have no choice but to ask the EU to extend the transition.
"If this is not the main scenario, it will be done in the near future," said Mutjaba Rahman of Eurasia Group.
However, without extension statements, this is a risk that investors still see in the future.
"It seems that the position of the British government has not changed at all regarding the importance of this date," said SEB Specialist Richard Falkenhall.
"The pound can achieve parity with the US dollar if the coronavirus epidemic leads to further deterioration of the British economy," he added.
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