FOREXCOM:GBPCHF   British Pound / Swiss Franc


1. Virus Situation

The successful vaccination program has allowed the UK to open up faster and sooner than peers & provides a favourable environment for GBP.

2. The Monetary Policy outlook for the BOE

The BoE meeting on 5 August provided a flurry of comments with something for both the doves and the hawks. The QE vote split was more dovish (7-1) with BoE’s Saunders the only dissenter, while upgrades to growth and inflation were positive, even though price pressures is still views as mostly ‘transitory’. Reasons for a patient stance was the uncertainty surrounding the virus at the time as well as waiting for the end of the furlough scheme to assess the impact on the labour market. Thus, the bank will be in wait-and-see mode until at least Oct or Nov. The other important change was the reduction in the bank’s QT threshold from 1.5% to 0.5%, with the bank looking at a bank rate of 0.5% to stop reinvesting maturing assets and a rate of 1.0% to start selling assets and reducing its balance sheet . Market participants are mixed about what this means (it’s positive since the bank has enough confidence to lower the balance sheet even while rates are low, but on the other hand it means rates can stay lower for longer which is a negative). However, all in all the most important take away was the continued optimism about the economy despite virus uncertainty and comments that modest tightening will be required.

3. The country’s economic developments

Hopes of a fast economic recovery has seen the BOE and IMF upgrade GDP projections for the UK which has widened the growth differentials between other major economies and has been a positive input for GBP. However, a lot of these positives are arguably already reflected in the price which means a continuation of the recent misses in economic data could make further solid gains more difficult for the GBP to maintain. The incoming data has been mixed with CPI and the labour market pushing higher while consumer spending disappointed. This week’s incoming BoE has some room to disappoint in our view as the market might have gotten too optimistic about how the bank will respond after the recent CPI print. Remember, the bank’s own projections expected CPI to reach 4% before cooling off, which means just above 3% shouldn’t scare them into tightening, and furthermore the bank still needs to evaluate how the labour market keeps up after furlough ends. Even though we are still bullish on the currency and expect higher rates next year, the BoE might cool some of the optimism and pick a more patient stance this week.

4. Political Developments

Even though a Brexit deal was reached at the end of last year, some issues like the Northern Ireland protocol remains, and with neither side willing to budge right now it seems like a never ending can kicking could see these issues drag on for a long time. For now, Sterling has looked through all the rigmarole and should continue to do so as long as the cans are kicked down the road.

4. CFTC Analysis

Latest CFTC data (updated until 14 Sep) showed a positioning change of +29314 with a net non-commercial position of +4790. Latest CFTC data showed a sizable positioning change after recent hawkish BoE comments which have taken positioning from a net-short back into net-long territory. Even though our bias remains to the upside, the move in spot and rates markets shows some caution has been thrown into the wind and means we want to take a more sober and patient approach to Sterling going into this week’s BoE.



1. Developments surrounding the global risk outlook.

As a safe-haven currency, the market's risk outlook is the primary driver for the CHF. Swiss economic data rarely proves market moving; and although SNB intervention can have a substantial impact on CHF, its impact tends to be relatively short-lived. Additionally, the SNB are unlikely to adjust policy anytime soon, given their overall bearish tone and a preference for being behind the ECB in terms of policy decisions. The market's overall risk tone has improving considerably from just a year ago because of the global vaccine roll out and the unprecedented amount of monetary policy accommodation and fiscal support from governments. The Delta variant and subsequent impact on growth expectations is of course a sobering reminder that risks remain. Thus, there is still a degree of uncertainty and risks to the overall risk outlook remains which could prove supportive for the safe havens like the CHF should negative factors for the global economy develop. However, on balance the overall risk outlook is continuing to improve and barring any major meltdowns in risk assets the bias for the CHF remains bearish in the med-term .

2. Idiosyncratic drivers for the CHF

Despite the negative drivers, the CHF has remained surprisingly strong over the past couple of weeks. This divergence from the fundamental outlook doesn’t make much sense, but the CHF often has a mind of its own and can often move in opposite directions from what short-term sentiment or its fundamental outlook suggests. Recent research from the team has revealed an interesting correlation between the CHF simultaneous price moves in Gold and the USD which could explain some of the recent price action. We also need to be careful of the possibility of SNB FX intervention. Apart from that, ING investment bank has recently argued that recent CHF strength could be due to the lower inflation in Switzerland compared to the EU which meant that the real trade-weighted CHF has been trading too cheap. They also expanded that the ECB’s bond buying has meant that their balance sheet is expanding more rapidly compared to that of the SNB, which could have been reasons why the SNB did not see the need for any meaningful FX intervention lately. The bottom line is that there are often plenty of idiosyncratic drivers which might or might not impact the CHF and makes short-term price fluctuations a mixed bag for the most part.

3. CFTC Analysis

Latest CFTC data (updated until 14 Sep) showed a positioning change of -6098 with a net non-commercial position of -5878. The CHF positioning continued to unwind some of its recent surprising strength over the past few weeks. The CHF has now moved back into net-short territory as one would expect from a currency with an overall med-term bearish outlook. Even though we expect the currency to continue weakening in the med-term , any drastic escalation in risk off tones could continue to provide support for the safe-haven currency in the short-term.

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