Sterling and the euro rose to fresh one-week highs on Friday, buoyed by the Bank of England’s moves to calm markets and hawkish signals from the European Central Bank.
The British currency was headed for its best week against the US dollar in 2.5 years as the BoE waded into the debt market to buy gilts for a second day on Thursday, buoying UK yields.
Heated German and Dutch consumer inflation data also served as a reminder that the job of the ECB, BoE and other central banks is not done, with the figure for the wider 19-country eurozone due later on Friday.
The pound touched $1.122 early in the Asian session, taking it very close to erasing all of the precipitous losses in the aftermath of the new government’s so-called mini-budget last Friday.
It gave back some of those gains later in the session but was still up 0.12 per cent at $1.114 as of 0522 GMT, on track for a 2.61pc advance this week, the most since March 2020. That’s despite plumbing a record low of $1.033 on Monday.
“The recovery in cable (the sterling-dollar rate) is very eye-catching,” said Sean Callow, a strategist at Westpac in Sydney.
“It makes some sense in that UK yields are set to be high for some time, discouraging short positions. But with the UK already running very large current account deficits, we doubt there is much more upside in sterling.”
The euro was about flat at $0.981 after earlier rising as high as $0.984.
The shared currency is on track for a 1.32pc weekly advance, its best showing in four months, after recovering from a fresh two-decade low at $0.953 from Monday.
Liquidity, however, was extremely low among European currencies during the Asian session.
Data on Thursday showed German inflation at its highest in more than a quarter of a century, driven by high energy prices, with analysts warning that the energy crisis has yet to make itself fully felt.
Inflation in the Netherlands jumped in September to its highest in decades, driven by skyrocketing energy prices, the statistics agency (CBS) said on Friday.
Markets are fully priced for another 75 basis point (bps) hike by the ECB next month, with 1-in-3 odds for a full percentage point bump.
“My choice would be 75,” ECB policymaker Gediminas Simkus told Bloomberg TV on the sidelines of a conference in Vilnius “But 50 is the minimum.” Colleagues including Slovakia’s Peter Kazimir, Austria’s Robert Holzmann and Finland’s Olli Rehn have all put 75 bps on the table in recent days, even though the ECB’s next meeting on Oct 27 is still nearly a month away.
For the BoE, traders predict 125 bps of tightening in early November, with small odds for a 150 bps increase.
The dollar index, which measures the greenback against the euro, sterling and four other major peers, managed to edge 0.12pc higher to 111.93, but remained close to a one-week low of 111.64 reached overnight.
That was despite continued hawkish rhetoric from Federal Reserve policymakers, with Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester saying on Thursday that “price stability is still job one,” and inflation must be tamed before officials can worry about the impact on economic growth.
The dollar was little changed at 144.55 yen, and has been mostly tracking sideways below the psychological 145 line since Japanese officials stepped in to conduct their first yen buying intervention since 1998 last week, when the dollar popped to a fresh 24-year peak at 145.90 yen.
Finance Minister Shunichi Suzuki signalled on Thursday his readiness to intervene again if speculative currency moves persist.
Japan’s government will confirm later on Friday the amount it spent on the intervention, and the amount it has left in reserve for further such action.
“Intervention concerns are definitely out there, and putting a lid on dollar-yen,” said Shinichiro Kadota, a strategist at Barclays in Tokyo.
“But at the end of the day, intervention — and especially unilateral intervention — don’t change the direction of the market, and fundamental factors, primarily the policy divergence between the Fed and BOJ, will be the ultimate determinant for dollar-yen.”
Elsewhere, the risk-sensitive Aussie slipped 0.08pc to $0.649, and New Zealand’s kiwi weakened 0.1pc to $0.572, leaving both on course for their worst monthly performances since April.
That’s despite market expectations for both countries’ central banks to continue with rate hiking campaigns next week.