Israeli Shekel Weakening Amidst Conflict with Hamas

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The Israeli shekel experienced its eighth consecutive decline on Thursday, reaching its lowest point against the dollar since 2015. The ongoing conflict with Hamas is cited as the primary reason for this depreciation.

The shekel’s value against the U.S. currency dropped by an additional 0.1% to reach 4.0312 per dollar, resulting in a year-to-date loss of 14.3%.

There are concerns that the protracted conflict will have a negative effect on Israel’s economy, prompting Fitch Ratings to issue a warning of a possible downgrade to the country’s A+ rating.

Data from S&P Global Market Intelligence reveals that the cost of insuring against an Israeli sovereign default through credit default swaps has more than doubled over the past three weeks.

Furthermore, Israel’s equity index, the Tel Aviv 125, currently sits at a two-year low, experiencing a 9% loss in the last month alone. U.S. investors can monitor this market using the iShares MSCI Israel ETF (EIS).

The Bank of Israel is scheduled to announce its next monetary policy decision on Monday. However, the bank has shown reluctance to lower interest rates in order to support the economy, as this could potentially contribute to a rise in inflation.

Since April 2022, Israel’s central bank has raised the main interest rate from 0.1% to the current rate of 4.75%. In its most recent meetings in July and September, the bank decided to maintain this rate.

Following the attack by Hamas on October 7, the central bank announced its intentions to sell up to $30 billion worth of foreign currency in the open market as a measure to stabilize and support the shekel’s value.

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