How to trade interest rate decisions

Interest rate decisions is one of the very important forex news events you will come across.

There are many factors contributing to price action in forex trading. Among them, news based trading is very common. Volatility tends to rise significantly. This rising volatility leads to more trading opportunities.

Among the different news events trading scenarios, interest rate decisions rank the highest.

What are interest rate decisions?

Interest rates for a country are set by their respective central banks. The interest rate decision is taken during a central bank meeting.

Examples include, the Bank of England, the Federal Reserve, Bank of Japan, and so on.

Trading interest rate decisions requires a keen eye. Traders also should have some knowledge of the economy for the currency pairs they want to trade. You cannot make profits by buying and selling whenever interest rate decisions are cut or hiked.

Interest rates decisions happen once a month and is serious enough to move the currency market prices.

Markets anticipate the outcome of the interest rate decision ahead of time. This is determined by key economic factors such as the GDP, Inflation, Consumer Spending and so on.

However, there are times when the interest rate decisions come as a surprise. This is when the currency prices rise or fall and set themselves up for some both short term and long term trends.

If you think that the interest rate decisions happen less frequently, then here’s some food for thought.

Most central banks in the world meet at least once per quarter. And many central banks meet almost every month.

Multiply this by the major currencies such as the EUR, USD, GBP, CHF, JPY. You can also include other currencies like CAD, AUD, NZD. In total, you now have quite a significant number of opportunities for trading the interest rate decisions.

What to look for when trading interest rates?

Traders with an eye for opportunity can identify opportune moments when trading the interest rate decisions. When executed correctly, forex traders can profit from this highly volatile news trading opportunity.

Speculative trading on interest rates decision is ideal in the forex markets. It allows forex traders to profit from the rate decisions for almost any currency pair.

For example, you could easily trade the USDJPY currency pair from London during the BoJ’s interest rate decision. And when the BoJ decides on interest rates, it impacts all currency pairs using JPY.

Firstly, the key figure that will form your benchmark is the market expectation

It is usually this number that plays a pivotal role in how the currencies will react to the decision. Analyzing the real and expected interest rates can help you identify the trends. There are also instances when investor sentiment is so high. During such moments, even in the event the interest rates are left unchanged, it could trigger a buy or a sell panic.

There is a popular saying in forex. Buy the rumor, sell the fact

This is true most of the times.

Besides the interest rates themselves, also lookout for any press releases that follow.

It is during such events that the Central bank governors add context to their decisions. They also indirectly set the agenda for the next interest rate decision.

Markets also tend to react to the press conferences. And at times you can see a price reversal right after the press conference. The reason is because market prices are driven by demand and supply and the common denominator to both is the investor sentiment.

Market Stimulus/Quantitative Easing

Given the context of the current economic crisis, the Bank of England for example has left the interest rate unchanged in the past months. This is because in course of the economic cycle, when a nation hits recession (or rock bottom) the central bank has to make use of other tools in order to get the economy up and running.

When exhausting options such as using the interest rates, the central banks can engage in other tools such as injecting stimulus into the markets, a refined term of which is known as Quantitative Easing. Even such tools can help to move the currency markets, albeit a bit more unpredictable.

The reason is because when the central bank injects money (or prints more money) into the economy, it usually results in a currency devaluation. Therefore in order to prevent this, measures are taken so as to keep the currency price within a reasonable range.

Trading Plan – Interest Rate Decisions

It is always good to be prepared when entering such crucial moments in forex trading. When trading the interest rate decisions, it is always advisable to have Plan A, Plan B and Plan C. Also spending a few minutes looking into the past history of the interest rate decisions can greatly benefit you to gain some insights into how and what influences impacted the interest rate decisions.

Avoid trading currency pairs where both the respective central banks have a trend of going in the same direction (i.e: both central banks have and will continue to raise interest rates or similar scenarios)

Considering that you have chosen the currency pair you wish to trade during the interest rate decision, your Plan A would typically be implemented if the interest rate has been increased while your Plan B would if the interest rates was decreased and finally your Plan C would be if interest were to be left unchanged.

Trading the interest rate decision is just one way to dig into opportunities, especially when trading with an ECN broker that allows you to scalp and even hedge the markets. Taking advantage of the right leverage and empowered by the above knowledge, traders can definitely benefit a couple of pips and perhaps even more when using speculative trading.

Links to central bank monetary policy decisions

Below are some links to the top central banks in the world and their monetary policy decision pages.

The U.S. Federal Reserve

Bank of Japan

Bank of England

The European Central Bank

Bank of Canada

Swiss National Bank

Reserve Bank of Australia

Reserve Bank of New Zealand