Categories: Forex News
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2023-10-31 9:10 AM

Pound Dips Amid BoE Decisions, Middle East Unrest Looms

  • The Pound Sterling (GBP) faces pressure due to escalating Middle East tensions and the anticipated Bank of England (BoE) interest rate decision.
  • The UK economy shows signs of a potential recession with inflation rates far from the 2% target, and heightened energy prices due to Middle East conflicts.
  • The Bank of England is expected to maintain the current interest rate at 5.25%, despite the challenges, with possible future policy tightening on the horizon.
By Nonhlanhla

Johannesburg – The Pound Sterling (GBP) is under intense pressure as global markets remain gripped by escalating tensions in the Middle East and growing concerns over the Bank of England’s (BoE) impending interest rate decision. These international developments have potential implications for South African investors, especially those with exposure to the UK market or the GBP.

The GBP/USD currency pair has witnessed significant selling pressure, with experts forecasting the BoE to maintain interest rates at 5.25%. This status quo in UK monetary policy further underscores the divergence with the US Federal Reserve’s (Fed) stance.

Several indicators point towards the BoE’s inclination to retain current interest rates. Foremost among them is the increasing apprehension about a looming recession in the UK. The British economy has grappled with inflation rates that remain alarmingly distant from the desired 2% target. Coupled with this is the concern that persisting conflicts in the Middle East could send energy prices skyrocketing, adding to the UK’s economic woes.

Key Insights on the UK’s Economic Landscape

  • The GBP retreated sharply, approaching 1.2140, as investors braced for the BoE’s policy meeting.
  • A string of negative economic indicators – from dwindling household expenditure and tepid labour demand to the heightened risks posed by potential energy price hikes due to the Middle East situation – are reinforcing the BoE’s decision to maintain interest rates.
  • There’s a noticeable slowdown in business activities, with companies scaling back due to diminished demand prospects. This scenario has led to notable reductions in labour requirements.
  • Companies are also delaying expansion initiatives because of escalating borrowing expenses.
  • The BoE’s higher interest rates have had an adverse impact on the housing sector, with mortgage approvals for September plummeting to their lowest since January at 43,328.
  • The UK’s cost of living crisis and the mounting threat of joblessness, as firms cut back on workforce, are compelling households to defer property acquisitions.
  • The larger perspective indicates that the BoE is likely to uphold the existing interest rates at 5.25%. However, there are speculations about further policy tightening, given that the headline inflation rate vastly exceeds the 2% target. Swati Dhingra, a BoE policymaker, hinted last month that if growth remains below expectations, rate cuts could be on the table.

On the international front, the mood remains sombre. The likelihood of a ceasefire between Israel and Palestine seems bleak, with Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu expressing reluctance to halt military operations against Hamas.

In parallel, the US Dollar exhibited a robust recovery, attracting significant buying interest around the 106.00 mark. Market watchers are now keenly awaiting the Federal Reserve’s policy meeting. Similar to its UK counterpart, the Fed is anticipated to retain interest rates, which currently hover between 5.25% and 5.50%. The US, however, contrasts sharply with the UK, showcasing resilience amidst higher borrowing costs.

Technical Analysis Corner

The GBP faced a steep decline from a four-day peak of around 1.2180. Rising concerns stemming from the deepening Israel-Palestine conflict and the BoE’s imminent policy decision have dampened market sentiment. Currently, the GBP/USD pair is broadly on the defensive, with both the 20-day and 50-day Exponential Moving Averages (EMAs) trending below the 200-day EMA. The momentum indicators suggest a challenging period ahead for the currency.

For South African investors, keeping a close eye on these global economic dynamics is crucial. The GBP’s movements, coupled with geopolitical tensions, have the potential to influence trading decisions and investment strategies, especially for those engaging with international markets.

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Nonhlanhla P Dube is a senior news reporter. Nonhlanhla is a student of International Relations at the University of South Africa. She reports primarily on personal finance and economics. You can contact her on: Email:

Tags: Pound