Interest rates continue to rise following another round of hikes from key central banks around the world.
Wednesday evening saw the US Federal Reserve conclude their latest meeting with a 50-basis point hike, bringing US rates to a range of 4.25% - 4.5%. Though smaller than some hikes seen this year, markets were caught off guard by more hawkish comments from Chairman Jerome Powell.
Recent reductions in the pace of inflation had raised hopes that the Fed might start to ease off the gas with their aggressive monetary policy. Powell confirmed however that rate rises are expected to continue and that the Fed wants to see more evidence of inflation truly coming down. The US dollar has weakened recently on the expectation of rate hikes slowing but climbed once more on the comments from Powell.
This saw gold fall from a weekly high of $1,824.75 per ounce on Tuesday, to a low of $1,774 so far today.
The Bank of England also increased rates by 50 basis points today, taking the UK rate to 3.5%. The decision was not unanimous however; two of the members wanted to keep rates where they stood at 3%, while one member wanted a higher 75 basis point hike. The BoE warned that the UK is still forecast to enter recession as of the end of the year, and that more rate rises will likely still be needed to bring inflation back towards the 2% target.
Rates have been near 0% for many years following the financial crisis, and the rise in borrowing costs this year is likely to be a painful reality check for many borrowers. The housing market in particular is showing early signs of collapse as current and potential homeowners face far higher mortgages. The pound fell slightly on the BoE’s decision, but the 0.5% hike was mostly expected and priced in.
Lastly, the European Central Bank also increased rates by 0.5 percentage points this afternoon, bringing its key rates to 2% and 2.5%.How much higher interest rates go, and what impact this has on the global economy is expected to be a key driver for currencies and commodity prices in 2023, and will be a key thing for investors to watch.