Boris Johnson is due to address the nation on Thursday to provide an answer as to whether or not UK lockdown measures will continue. It is widely expected that we will get a more thorough road map to an ease in lockdown measures on Sunday and this could well be the cause of volatility on the currency markets.

Do not hold your breath if you think you are going to be popping out for a pint in the near future, however. Johnson released a video on Twitter which hints at a potential prolonged lockdown period as death and infection statistics do not show a consistent fall.

The PM has stated the worst thing we can do now is ease the rules. Boris went on to say the UK could only move to the "second phase of this conflict" once the "five tests" had been met.

The five tests are:

  • The NHS must have sufficient critical care capacity
  • There must be a sustained and consistent fall in daily deaths
  • The infection rate must be decreasing to “manageable levels”
  • There must be enough PPE and testing supply
  • Any adjustments must not lead to a second peak which could overwhelm the health service

The time to move onto the second phase will be once we have met the 5 tests. This could prove to be a wise move from the PM, but an increased lockdown period could cause a drop in sterling value.

Yesterday we saw the pound make gains, then fall and then make gains once again after rumours coming from Brussels that things remain uncertain.

Brexit Continues to Weigh on Sterling Exchange Rates

We must also remember that we have the small matter of Brexit to deal with. Johnson has said on several occasions he has no intention to extend Brexit negotiations which has done little to boost investor confidence in him getting a deal over the line.

A deal must be agreed in principal by the end of June which seems an extremely tall order in current circumstances. While a no deal scenario is still a possibility it is probable that the Pound will remain vulnerable.

If you are purchasing Euros it may prove wise to move if GBP/EUR reached the high 1.14s as 1.15 has held up as a resistance point for well over a fortnight. If we recall the period of Brexit negotiations when Theresa May was in charge 1.15 held up for nearly 18 months with the market quickly retracting each time it was breached. During yesterdays trading we again saw GBP/EUR move up to 1.1506 only to drop back.

Data Releases of Consequence

UK Construction Purchase Manager Index (PMI)  figures are due out this morning and this is predicted to be a fall from 39.3 to 22 (anything above 50  indicates growth). This is obviously a huge fall but it is questionable as to whether this data release will have the same consequences as in normal market conditions. If the figures land away from expectations, we could see volatility.

Later in the day we will witness non-farm employment change in the US for the month of April. We have seen some horrendous statistics of late out of the US for employment, but in these circumstances it is to be expected.

Data is expected to land at 20,050k from 27k last month. Again if we see figures land away from expectations we could see market movement. Also, in the afternoon we will see the release of US crude oil inventories which considering the current surplus could be a market mover for currencies attached to countries with oil as a primary export.

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