Shekel drops to lowest against the dollar since August 2011

The low exchange rate, a sign of the shekel’s strength, has been a persistent problem for the Bank of Israel.

By
March 10, 2014 22:57
1 minute read.
shekel and dollar exchange

shekel versus dollar 300. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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The shekel-dollar exchange rate dipped to 3.45 on Monday, its lowest since August 2011, before closing at 3.47.

The low exchange rate, a sign of the shekel’s strength, has been a persistent problem for the Bank of Israel. The central bank lowered the March interest rate in part to counter the shekel’s strength. Unexpectedly low inflation was also a major driver behind the decision.

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According to the Bank of Israel’s interest-rate discussion, released Monday, most members of the Monetary Committee “agreed that if an additional appreciation occurs, it would be liable to undermine the recent trend of improvement in Israel’s exports.”

Israel had strong export numbers in the last quarter, but that came mostly from a push in pharmaceuticals, a sector where exports tend to be volatile.

In an analysis of the shekel’s strength, FXCM Israel said Monday: “If there is something that we have learned in recent weeks, it is that the Bank of Israel’s ability to influence the exchange rate is limited. Despite massive interventions and the interest-rate cut, the shekel-dollar exchange rate is at a new low. Measures by the Bank of Israel have only a short-term effect.”

Increasing foreign-currency reserves and reducing the interest rate are liable to harm the economy, it said.

“The downward break of the shekel- dollar exchange rate will increase speculators’ appetite to profit from the trend and to sell the dollar against the shekel,” FXCM Israel said. “If the dollar continues to weaken in international markets, the shekel-dollar exchange rate could fall to new lows, and the Bank of Israel’s efforts will not help.”



Globes contributed to this report.


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