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Key rate: Meaning & its impact on markets | Skilling

Key rate: A room displaying a vast amount of money spread across the floor.

One of the most pivotal factors driving the financial world is the key rate. Let's explore its significance and how it influences markets.

What is the key rate?

Think of the key rate as the "boss" of interest rates. It's the rate at which banks borrow money from the central bank in a country. When the central bank wants to control the economy, it adjusts this rate. This key rate then impacts how much it costs for everyone else to borrow money, affecting everything from mortgages to car loans.

What is a key rate example?

Imagine the central bank sets the key rate at 2%. This means that commercial banks can borrow money from the central bank at this rate. Now, let's say you want to take out a loan for a new car. Because the key rate is low, banks can borrow money cheaply. As a result, they might offer you a car loan with a lower interest rate, making it more affordable for you to buy that dream car. So, the key rate influences the interest rates you encounter when borrowing money.

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How does the key rate affect interest rates?

When the key rate goes up, it becomes more expensive for banks to borrow. To cover this cost, they raise the interest rates they charge on loans. So, if you're looking to borrow money for a house or a car, you'll likely end up paying more in interest. On the flip side, when the key rate goes down, borrowing becomes cheaper for banks. They then lower the interest rates on loans, making it more affordable for people to borrow money.

The key rate primarily affects interest rate-sensitive instruments and markets, such as:

  • Bonds: Government bonds corporate bonds, and other fixed-income securities are directly influenced by changes in the key rate, as they determine borrowing costs and yield levels.
  • Currency markets: Foreign exchange rates can be impacted by changes in the key rate, as they affect the attractiveness of a currency relative to others for investors seeking higher yields.
  • Loan products: Interest rates on various loan products, including mortgages, car loans, and personal loans, are directly influenced by changes in the key rate.
  • Derivatives: Interest rate derivatives such as futures, options, and swaps tied to interest rates, are directly impacted by changes in the key rate.

How does the key rate affect traders

Here's a breakdown of how the key rate impacts traders:

  • Borrowing costs: When the key rate goes up, it becomes more expensive for traders to borrow money for investments. This could reduce their willingness to take on new positions or leverage their existing ones.
  • Investment decisions: Traders might adjust their investment strategies based on changes in the key rate. For example, if the key rate increases, traders might shift towards safer investments or reduce their exposure to riskier assets like stocks.
  • Market volatility: Changes in the key rate could lead to increased market volatility as traders reassess their positions and react to new economic conditions. Higher volatility could create both opportunities and risks for traders.
  • Currency values: Traders in the Forex market closely monitor changes in the key rate, as it could affect the value of currencies. For example, if a country's central bank raises its key rate, it could attract foreign investment, leading to an appreciation of the currency.
  • Interest rate derivatives: Traders in interest rate derivatives markets, such as futures or options on government bonds are directly impacted by changes in the key rate. These instruments derive their value from interest rates, so shifts in the key rate could affect their pricing and trading activity.

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FAQs

1. What is a key rate?

A key rate, also known as a benchmark interest rate or policy rate, is the rate at which a central bank lends money to commercial banks or sets the cost of borrowing in an economy.

2. Why is the key rate important?

The key rate is crucial because it influences interest rates throughout the economy, impacting borrowing costs, investment decisions, inflation and overall economic activity.

3. How does the central bank decide on the key rate?

Central banks use various economic indicators and analysis to determine the key rate, aiming to achieve their monetary policy objectives, such as controlling inflation, promoting economic growth, or stabilising financial markets.

4. How does the key rate affect consumers?

Changes in the key rate can impact consumers by affecting interest rates on loans and savings accounts. When the key rate increases, borrowing becomes more expensive, leading to higher mortgage rates, credit card rates, and other loans. Conversely, a decrease in the key rate can result in lower borrowing costs for consumers.

5. How does the key rate affect businesses?

Key rate changes could influence business investment decisions by altering the cost of borrowing for expansion or investment projects. Additionally, changes in interest rates could affect consumer spending, which in turn impacts businesses' sales and revenue.

6. What is the relationship between the key rate and inflation?

The key rate could affect inflation by influencing borrowing costs and consumer spending. A higher key rate tends to lower inflation by reducing consumer borrowing and spending, while a lower key rate could stimulate economic activity and potentially lead to higher inflation.

7. How do changes in the key rate impact financial markets?

Changes in the key rate could lead to fluctuations in financial markets, including stock markets, bond markets, and currency markets. Traders and investors often adjust their strategies in response to changes in interest rates, leading to price movements in various asset classes.

8. How frequently does the central bank change the key rate?

The frequency of key rate changes varies depending on economic conditions, central bank policies, and monetary policy objectives. Central banks may adjust the key rate periodically, ranging from monthly to less frequent adjustments, depending on their assessment of the economy.

Past performance does not guarantee or predict future performance. This article is offered for general information purposes only and does not constitute investment advice.

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15/07 - 19/07
TSLA.US: 00:00 - 21:00 UTC
MANAUSD: 13:30 - 20:00 UTC
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