The CurrencyShares British Pound Sterling Trust (NYSEArca: FXB), which tracks the British pound’s movement against the U.S. dollar, was one of last year’s worst-performing currency exchange traded funds. Just a few trading sessions into 2017, the pound and FXB are already showing signs of extending last year’s bearishness.
Pound weakness is, however, lifting sterling hedged ETFs. On Monday, the iShares Currency Hedged MSCI United Kingdom ETF (NYSEArca: HEWU) gained 0.2%, WisdomTree United Kingdom Hedged Equity Fund (NasdaqGM: DXPS) rose 0.4% and Deutsche X-Trackers MSCI United Kingdom Hedged Equity ETF (NYSEArca: DBUK) was flat.
Prime Minister Theresa May May reignited fears of a so-called hard Brexit after her comments over the weekend. May spoke at the Conservative Party conference and Sunday’s traditional new-year television interview where she boosted speculation the U.K. is likely to pursue an exit from the European Union that prioritized immigration controls.
“Sterling dropped to the lowest level versus the dollar since October on Tuesday amid concern the U.K. is heading for a exit from the European Union that prioritizes curbing immigration over single-market membership. That’s left analysts braced for another volatile 12 months, with HSBC Holdings Plc strategists predicting that the pound may drop to as low as $1.10 if the most severe exit option is pursued,” according to Bloomberg.
Looking ahead, many expect the Bank of England to enact more accommodative measures to help bolster the economy. In August, the Bank of England pared its benchmark rates to a record low 0.25% from 0.5% and anticipates it will further bring it down toward zero ahead, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The pound has been the worst performing asset since the U.K.’s decision to leave the E.U., and the majority of analysts who’ve changed their forecasts since the referendum results are now projecting the currency to remain depressed.
“The pound has fallen 1.6 percent against the U.S. currency this year, more than any of its G-10 peers, and adding to a 16 percent drop in 2016. While, before the referendum, sterling was seen as one of the market’s best ways to trade the risk of a ‘leave’ vote, since then it has swung wildly amid debates over the manner of the U.K.’s exit,” according to Bloomberg.
For more information on the GBP, visit our British pound category.