The British pound, along with related currency exchange traded fund, jumped to a three-week high against the greenback after the Bank of England hinted that rates could rise sooner than expected, with some pointing to rate hikes as early as the first quarter of next year.
The CurrencyShares British Pound Sterling Trust (NYSEArca: FXB) gained 0.8% Friday. FXB is up 1.2% over the past three months and 1.5% higher year-to-date.
“There’s already great speculation about the exact timing of the first rate hike and this decision is becoming more balanced,” Bank of England Gov. Mark Carney said, according to the Wall Street Journal. “It could happen sooner than markets currently expect.”
Carney’s hawkish statement caught the currency market off guard, bolstering the pound sterling.
“He’s sounding more hawkish than the markets were expecting,” Brad Bechtel, managing director at Faros Trading, said. “Carney seemed to be pre-warning the market. The pound is rising as you would expect; it’s rising sharply against the dollar and the euro.”
The British pound sterling gained about 0.2% Friday, strengthening to 1.6969 per U.S. dollar. Currency traders are looking for the GBP to hold at the 1.7 level.
“While Carney provided no detail of how soon rates could rise, it is unlikely that he would have made such a bold statement without a real possibility that rates could rise this year,” Lloyds Bank analysts said in a Pound Sterling Live article.