08/04/2021

Market report: AstraZeneca concerns dent GBP


GBP

The pound fell sharply yesterday following concerns around the UK’s vaccine rollout. Primarily, the AstraZeneca jab’s continued association with a minute number of blood clot cases.

The jab makes up 75% of vaccinations given in certain parts of the UK and is seen as integral to Britain hitting its inoculation targets. Yesterday, The UK Government’s joint committee on vaccines and immunisation stressed the safety of the jabs, but did suggest anyone aged 18-30 year should be offered an alternative vaccine where available.

This led to a repositioning of the pound and an unwinding of bets for further gains. The fear here is that a slowing pace of vaccinations in the UK could delay current plans to fully reopen the economy by the end of June.

Despite this, hopes remain high the UK will stick to the roadmap. This follows the earlier-than-expected delivery of Modena vaccines and possible Novavax/Johnson & Johnson approval.

The pound is now likely to stall, with the gains seen in recent weeks confined to the past. The EU is expecting a big increase in vaccinations in April, closing the gap on the UK.

We saw something similar in March when sterling gains stalled against the dollar following an acceleration in the US vaccine programme.

USD

The Federal Reserve interest rate dot-plot shifted yesterday as markets began pricing in an interest rate hike as soon as next year. This is despite Fed meeting minutes showing the current accommodative policy will be kept in place until outcomes are achieved and won’t be adjusted based on forecasts.

Members also stated that the current rate of bond purchasing is providing good support to the economy. This will remain unchanged until full-employment is achieved and inflation sits around the 2% target.

Just the mention of what needs to be in place for a hike is enough for some to start pricing a hike in, which may be premature in some eyes. This bullish approach is likely to be part-fueled by recent strong labour market data, a key contributor to both the employment and inflation number.  

Key announcements

17:00 (USD) – Fed Chair Powell Speech


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