In order to understand the reason behind the change in interest rates, let us first understand the factors that influence it. Interest rates directly impact the currency value, which is the base for the determination of exchange rates. A country's interest rates determine the strength of its currency. A lower interest rate tends to weaken currencies over time, and a higher interest rate tends to make currencies stronger.
Investors Follow the Highest Returns
A country's capital inflows or outflows have a massive impact on the exchange rate of its currency. Whenever globalization has taken place, a country's economic fundamentals have been good enough for foreign capital to flow seamlessly into that country, even if its policies are slightly restrictive. China and India are two examples of burgeoning capital inflows. Also, investors prefer to reinvest the returns from those investments within the same country, preventing currency outflows and strengthening the currency value.
A central bank's interest rate is a crucial factor affecting the amount of capital that flows into a country. In the event a large inflow of money into a country is exchanged into the local currency before it can be invested, it creates a huge demand for the local currency, and as a result, its price goes up.
Businesses Want to Pay the Lowest Cost
The downside of high-interest rates is that businesses find it very difficult to borrow at those rates and still make a profit. The Central Bank's rate becomes the base rate for the whole economy.
Businesses and individuals thus pay a higher rate than the base rate. If the business generates a profit and its rate of return is high enough to cover the increasing interest costs, it will continue to borrow. If that does not happen, investor funds parked in banks will have no buyers, which will cause interest rates to fall.
Consequently, this will likely cause capital outflows from the economy as investors are likely to find better ways to park their money. The increase in the supply of the local currency without any corresponding demand will further cause the exchange rates to fall.
Thus, rising interest rates are counterproductive once they have reached a certain level.
Inflation, recession and fiscal deficit
Some other important factors can impact the currencies' value and interest rates. The most important one is inflation. An increase in inflation leads to a rise in interest rates. In turn, this reduces investments financed by borrowed money.
The recession is another factor that influences interest rates. Interest rates usually decrease during a recession. Therefore, people are encouraged to borrow more from the government and invest in different markets.
The fiscal deficit can also be a significant factor. In other words, the government is spending more than it is earning. Therefore, the government borrows to balance things out. Therefore, borrowing influences money demand, which in turn fluctuates interest rates. Traders need to remember that the more deficits there are, the greater the borrowing, which results in higher interest rates.
Interest Rates Expectation
As different events and situations arise, the markets are constantly changing. Interest rates fluctuate just like everything else - they change, but not as often as one might think.
The market has already "priced" current interest rates into the currency's price, so forex traders don't focus on them. The more relevant question is where interest rates are expected to go.
Moreover, you should know that interest rates tend to shift with monetary policy, or more specifically, with the end of a monetary cycle. Over time, if rates have been decreasing, the opposite is almost inevitable, which means rates will eventually have to increase. Speculators will be trying to figure out when and by how much that will happen. The shift in expectations signifies that a change in speculation is about to begin and will gain momentum as the interest rate change approaches.
When traders anticipate that the interest rate for a currency will increase in the near future, the demand for that currency will go up. Consequently, the currency is likely to appreciate more than its peers.
Unlike interest rates, which are gradually changing because of monetary policy changes, market sentiment can also sometimes change drastically with the release of just a single report. This results in interest rates affecting the currency pairs more dramatically or even in the opposite direction of what was initially anticipated. So you better watch out!