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Foreign exchange analysts at Barclays have updated clients with their latest foreign exchange forecasts, saying the British Pound is likely to remain strong while the Australian Dollar is prone to consolidation over coming weeks and months.
The UK-based international lender and investment bank see upside potential in the Pound-to-Australian Dollar exchange rate (GBP/AUD) as a result.
"We expect sterling to remain strong, marginally outperforming USD and appreciating against EUR over the forecast horizon," says Marek Raczko, an analyst with Barclays.
Barclays economists expect the UK to experience a robust economic recovery, spurred by the rapid vaccination effort and fuelled by generous fiscal stimulus, which they say should support Pound Sterling.
"We also think the BoE will remain on hold throughout 2021, maintaining its accommodative stance, but the BoE is not likely to be concerned by a strengthening GBP, in our view, as it will likely reflect solid economic growth," says Raczko.
The call comes as the GBP/AUD exchange rate extends its 2021 recovery, having risen from a multi-month low at 1.7416 on January 07 to a high just above 1.81 in mid-March.
The exchange rate has however consolidated gains over recent weeks and is quoted at 1.8018 at the time of writing.
The Australian Dollar was one of the best performing currencies of 2020, spurred on by a rapidly recovering Chinese economy that stoked demand for Australia's bountiful raw materials.
A strong export book meant that by January the country was reporting record current account and trade surpluses which offer a fundamental support to the Aussie Dollar.
But, commodity prices have eased of late while iron ore exports from Brazil - Australia's main competitor in this space - have recovered meaingfully, suggesting the earnings from Australia's main foreign exchange earner are likely to ease from recent highs.
China's economic rebound has meanwhile also eased and expectations for a 'commodity super cycle' - such as that witnessed in the early 2010's - is unlikely to repeat and therefore denies the Australian Dollarthe record valuations seen in that era.
"We expect the AUD to weaken in the short term as it consolidates after rallying sharply on growth outperformance and China tailwinds in 2020," says analyst Ashish Agrawal at Barclays. "Tailwinds from China are likely to weaken as China’s moderating infrastructure investment could weigh on Australia’s commodity exports."
GBP/AUD Forecasts 2021
Period: Q2 2021 Onwards
FX for Businesses Guide
Barclays economists expect Australia's current account surplus to moderate to 1.9% of GDP in 2021 (2020: 2.5%) as goods imports rise with domestic demand.
Agrawal says the Aussie Dollar's sensitivity to growth optimism and risk appears to have weakened, especially as stimulus prospects boosted US optimism and U.S. rates climbed sharply, supporting the U.S. Dollar.
Meanwhile, the difference between interest rates on offer in the U.S., UK and Australia could weigh on the Australian Dollar as the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) guides to an unchanged cash rate until 2024.
High interest rates at the RBA have long been a source of support for the currency as international investors hunted out higher returns on their capital. But with a base rate now at 0.1% - in line with the Bank of England - that yawning interest rate advantage once held by Australia no longer exists.
"Risks to our view are skewed to the downside, especially from renewed growth concerns, lower commodity prices and an escalation in Australia-China trade tensions with upside risks mainly from an even stronger cyclical recovery," adds Agrawal.
Barclays forecast the GBP/USD exchange rate to be at 1.40 from the end of the second quarter of 2021 right through to year-end.
The AUD/USD exchange rate is meanwhile forecast at 0.77 by the end of the second quarter and 0.76 by the end of September, a forecast maintained until year-end.
This gives a GBP/AUD cross rate forecast of 1.8181 by the end of the second quarter, 1.8420 by the end of September and 1.8420 by year-end.