Exchange rates can influence stock prices so it is important for share investors to have an understanding on what causes exchange rate movements. Companies with overseas operations may be impacted positively or negatively depending on the direction on the exchange rates. Exchange rates can also influence the amount of overseas funds being invested in Australian shares. We discuss 7 causes of exchange rate movements below.
Countries with low inflation rates will have stronger exchange rates than countries with high inflation. If inflation is too high, then goods become more expensive for domestic consumers as well as overseas buyers. Importers will look for other countries where goods are cheaper. This will make countries with high inflation less competitive. This in effect reduces the demand of products as well as the demand for the currency.
High interest rates may cause an appreciation of the currency whereas low interest rates may cause depreciation. Investors will look to put their money into countries which have high interest rates as they can get a better return. For example, if Australian interest rates are higher than other countries, then investors will want to deposit money in Australia. This in turn will increase the demand for the currency and increase the exchange rate.
Similarly, to the stock market, currency rates are based on demand and supply. Speculators buy currencies now in the hope it will appreciate and then sell at a profit in the future. If there are many investors who hold this view then this will drive up demand and it will increase the exchange rate. Sometimes the exchange rate movements are influenced by market sentiment as opposed to economic fundamentals.
4.Country’s Trade Account
The country’s trade account is how much a country imports in comparison to how much that country exports. A trade deficit means the value of imports is greater than the value of exports. A trade surplus means the value of exports is greater than the value of the imports. When a trade deficit occurs, the country’s demand for foreign goods is higher than local goods so there is less demand for the local currency. This in effect decreases the value of the currency rate. A trade surplus means higher demand for the local currency and a stronger currency rate.
Investors will have more confidence in a currency where there is political stability. There will be a higher demand for a country’s currency if investors feel their funds are invested in a safe and stable environment. If there is political instability there will be less demand for that currency and this may cause a depreciation in exchange rates.
Interest rates are correlated to the economic health of a country. When there is a recession, interest rates tend to be low to stimulate the economy and generate growth. However lower interest rates discourage foreign investment demand which depreciates the currency. When the economy is strong and interest rates are high, then there is an increase in demand for that currency.
If a country has high national debt and the market cannot see how this debt can be paid back, then investors may sell their bonds. This could in turn lead to a devaluation in the currency. However, if a country has low debt, then it will be perceived as a safe and stable currency. This will therefore increase the demand of the currency.
Lauren Hua is a private client adviser at Fairmont Equities.
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