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Bank Lending Rate – How Important Is It To Know This Fundamental Driver?

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Introduction

Bank Lending Rate serves as a useful metric to assess the liquidity of the banking sector and the overall economy. Bank Lending Rate helps us to understand the ‘cost of money’ or how expensive the money is in the economy.

The Lending environment within the economy determines whether the consumer and business sentiment is bearish (save more spend less) or bullish (spend more save less), which will have a multitude of impacts in various sectors. Investors, Traders, Economists use these rates to assess the current ease of flow of money within the economy and its corresponding consequences.

What is Bank Lending Rate?

Bank Lending Rate, also called the Prime Rate, is the interest rate at which the commercial banks are willing to lend money to their most creditworthy customers. The most creditworthy customers would usually be the corporate companies that have an outstanding past credit record.

At the top of the lending, chain sits the Central Bank, which determines the rate at which banks lend each other money in the interbank market. In the United States, the Central Bank is the Federal Reserve, and it influences the interbank rate, also called the Fed Funds Rate, by purchasing or selling government securities.

When the Federal Reserve purchases bonds, it results in the injection of money into the system, thereby increasing the liquidity of the bank market, and correspondingly the overall economy. When the Banks have more money to lend, the banks will lend this newly injected money at a lower rate, as a result of competition, and excess reserves.

On the other hand, when the Federal Reserve sells the bonds, it takes money out of the system, where banks become less liquid and thereby increasing their interest rates to get the best price for their remaining funds.

Hence, the Fed Funds rate serves as the base for the Prime Rate or Bank Lending Rate. This Prime Rate serves as the basis for all other subsequent forms of loans like a personal, business, student, or even Mortgage loans. The below diagram is illustrative of the above points.

The below diagram summarizes the hierarchy of the rates. The lower cell type of interest rate derives its value from its upper cell interest rate.

How can the Bank Lending Rate numbers be used for analysis?

The Prime Rates change based on the Fed Funds Rate, which is decided by the Central Bank based on economic factors.

The remaining forms of loans are derived from the Prime Rate and a percentage spread that is charged by banks for lending the money. The spread (or profit) varies from bank to bank and also on the customer’s credit score. Hence, there is no single Prime Rate as the best customers of the banks vary, and hence, usually, the quoted Prime Rate is the rate published daily in the Wall Stree Journal.

The Prime Rate is seen as a benchmark for commercial loans. In most cases, that would be the lowest rate available to the general public and business corporations, and it is not a mandatory minimum. In the end, banks can tweak their rules in their favor. A decrease in Fed Funds rate does not necessarily guarantee that a subsequent drop in the Prime Rates, but due to competition amongst banks, the general trend is that the Prime Rate follows the Fed Funds Rate.

We must understand that a Bank’s primary motive is to make money out of money. They make their profit on the difference between the Lending Rate and the Deposit Rate, also called the Net Interest Margin. A variety of factors come into play before a loan is sanctioned. The risk associated with the borrower (credit score, income source, assets, and existing liabilities), fluctuating market and economy, general consumer and business sentiment, etc. all add to the decision-making process of setting the Prime Rate, or other loan forms derived from it.

The ease at which loans are available to the public determines the type of monetary policy. In a loose lending environment, the Bank Lending Rates are typically low, which encourages consumers to borrow more and spend more into the economy. On the contrary, when the Rates are high, it discourages consumers from borrowing and encourages saving more.

The Central Bank regulates money flow through its interbank operations to manage inflation and deflation. In developed economies, a loose lending environment promotes growth & avoids possible deflationary threats. The tight lending environment is a strategy to slow down or cool down an overinflating economy.

The affordability of loans determines how much money is in people’s hands to spend. Low Prime Rates ensure high spending environments that are good for businesses and promote growth and higher GDP prints and vice-versa.

The effectiveness of the Prime Rate changes is not immediate, as the changes in the Fed Funds Rates, Prime Rates take time to come into effect. There is generally a 4-12 months time lag before the intended changes start to play out, and yet there is no guarantee that these levers will work.

Impact on Currency

Higher Bank Lending Rates is deflationary for the economy, and currency appreciates. On the other hand, Low Bank Lending Rates are inflationary for the economy, and the currency depreciates in the short-run.

Although, the low rates are typically set to boost the economy, which will cancel out the depreciation effect on a longer time frame, the immediate effect is as stated above.

Economic Reports

For the United States, the Federal Reserve publishes daily Selected Interest Rates, which includes the Prime Rate figures also. Weekly average and monthly Prime Rate figures are also available. In general, weekly and monthly data are monitored by the market.

The data is posted from Monday to Friday at 4:15 PM every day for the Daily Selected Interest Rates.

Sources of Bank Lending Rate

Selected Interest Rates – Daily – Federal Reserve

Selected Interest Rates – Weekly Monthly – Federal Reserve

The St. Louis FRED also keeps track of Prime Rates, and it is available here

Bank Lending Rates for various countries are summarized together and available here

Impact of the ‘Bank Lending Rate’ news release on the price charts 

In the previous section of the article, we learned about the ‘Banks Lending Rate’ fundamental indicator, which talks about the change in the total value of outstanding bank loans issued to customers and businesses. A country that lends more to people and companies is said to encourage economic growth by giving more money in the hands of people. This directly stimulates consumer spending and promotes the overall development of the country. This is one of the key parameters, if not very important, which investors look at before taking a position in the currency.

In the following section of the article, we shall look at the impact of the Bank Lending Rate announcement on various currency pairs and examine the change in volatility due to the announcement. The below image shows the previous and latest data of Japan, where the rate was reduced from the previous month. Let us analyze the impact of the same on some major Japanese Yen pairs.

EUR/JPY | Before The Announcement

We shall start with the EUR/JPY currency pair for discovering the impact of the Bank Lending Rate on the currency. The above image shows the characteristics of the chart before the announcement was made, and we see that after a high volatile move, the price has developed a small ‘range.’ Currently, the price is at the ‘support’ where we can expect to pop up any time. Thus, the bias is on the ‘long’ side.

EUR/JPY | After The Announcement

After the news announcement, the price suddenly goes higher and closes as a bullish candle. The spike in volatility to the upside was a result of the negative Bank Lending Rate, which was slightly reduced as compared to the previous month. As the rate was not increased, traders bought the currency and sold the Japanese Yen. But since the data was largely poor, the ‘news candle’ was immediately retraced fully, and volatility increased on the downside. Thus, we need to wait for the volatility to subside in order to make a trade.

AUD/JPY | Before The Announcement

 

AUD/JPY | After The Announcement

The above images are that of the AUD/JPY currency pair, where we see that before the news announcement, the pair in a strong uptrend with nearly no retracement of any sort. This means the Japnese Yen is extremely weak, and irrespective of the news data, a ‘short’ trade is not recommended whatsoever.

After the news announcement, the price initially moves higher, but later volatility increases to the downside and goes below the moving average. This shows that the Bank Lending Rate news was not bad for the Japanese Yen, which is why traders bought the currency later on. We need to be careful by not taking a ‘short’ trade as the overall trend is up and that the impact is not long-lasting.

CHF/JPY | Before The Announcement

CHF/JPY | After The Announcement

The above images represent the CHF/JPY currency pair, where we see in the first image that the market is clearly ‘range’ bound and is not trending in any direction. Just before the announcement, the price is near the top of ‘range,’ which means we can expect sellers to get active any moment from now. We shall wait and see what the news release does to the currency pair and then take a suitable position in the market based on the data.

After the news announcement, the price moves higher, similarly as in the above currency pairs, but gets instantly retraced. The currency pair forms a ‘Rail-Road Track’ candlestick pattern, which indicates that the pair is going to continue its downward move. Hence traders can take ‘short’ after noticing such a pattern after a news announcement. Technically also the place is supportive of a ‘sell.’

That’s about ‘Bank Lending Rate’ and its impact on the Forex market after its news release. If you have any questions, please let us know in the comments below. Good luck!

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