The dollar edged lower in early European trade Thursday, ahead of two major monetary developments in Europe. The European Central Bank will announce the results of its latest long-term lending operation, which is the first at which banks can borrow at the new lower limit of as low as 1%. Given the doubts over the effectiveness of negative interest rates, a high take-up would constitute a vote of confidence in the ability of the ECB to keep supporting the economy through monetary policy (and vice versa). ECB board member Isabel Schnabel last week trailed expectations of around 1.4 trillion euros in demand.
The TLTRO results will be followed by the Bank of England's policy announcement at 7 AM ET (1100 GMT).
Sterling edged lower in early trading Thursday, amid expectations that the central bank will boost its quantitative easing program by between 100 and 150 billion pounds. The U.K. economy has been particularly hard hit by the coronavirus outbreak, and is forecast to shrink the most of all G7 economies this year by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
“Our economist thinks the QE target will be raised by 150 billion [pounds] compared to consensus of only 100 billion [pounds],” said analysts at ING, in a research note. “Our expectation is driven in part by practical consideration. If purchases continue at the current pace, the target will be reached around the September meeting - leaving the MPC in a position to take a rushed decision after the summer.”
GBP/USD dropped 0.1% to 1.2538, while EUR/GBP rose 0.2% to 0.8974.
At 3:40 AM ET (0740 GMT), the dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six other currencies, was down 0.1% at 97.013. EUR/USD gained 0.1% to 1.1251, USD/JPY dropped 0.1% to 106.86, while the risk-sensitive AUD/USD fell 0.2% to 0.6867.
Norway's central bank is also scheduled to meet later Thursday, and is widely expected to keep its benchmark interest rates unchanged at 0.0%.
“Developments since the May meeting have clearly come out on the upside and at the very least the downside risk is much reduced,” said analysts at Danske Bank, in a research note. “We therefore expect Norges Bank to revise its projections upwards and that the accompanying interest rate path will indicate a gradual rise in the policy rates from the end of 2022.”
USD/NOK rose 0.1% to 9.5286 and EUR/NOK rose 0.1% to 10.722.
The central bank operations are taking place against a backdrop of a spike in new Coronavirus cases in the U.S. and China, which has hit risk-sensitive currencies this week.
“The markets are currently weighing two opposing forces for risk assets. The rise in Covid-19 cases in the US and China and its associated risk for the economies, and stimulus measures (both monetary and prospects of further fiscal),” ING analysts said.
As such, the latest weekly U.S. jobless claims at 8:30 AM ET (1230 GMT) may play a big role in whether greed or fear sets the tone for the rest of the day.