Sterling weaker against euro, hits two-week high against dollar
Cautious optimism on Brexit offers some support to UK pound
Against the euro, sterling was trading at 89.81p on Wednesday afternoon, as the single currency strengthened against most of its counterparts. Photograph: Bloomberg
Sterling weakened against the euro on Wednesday, but hit its highest level against the dollar in two weeks, benefiting from broad selling of the US currency and cautious optimism from investors on the state of Brexit negotiations.
There have been mixed messages on whether British and EU officials will meet an informal October deadline to reach an agreement on how they will structure trade ties following their divorce next year. Diplomats in Brussels said they expected a delay in finalising the terms of Britain’s exit and could need to hold an emergency summit in November. But British Brexit minister Dominic Raab said late on Tuesday that he was confident an exit agreement could be reached by an October 18th summit of EU leaders.
Dollar weakness after US president Donald Trump’s said that he was unhappy with the Federal Reserve for raising interest rates also helped the pound earlier this week.
In the wake of Mr Raab’s comments, sterling hit its highest levels against the dollar in 12 days, at $1.2924. It extended those gains to $1.2936 on Wednesday, hitting its highest since August 8th as the dollar weakened further.
Against the euro, sterling was trading at 89.81p on Wednesday afternoon, as the single currency strengthened against most of its counterparts.
Sterling had plunged to nearly 14-month lows last week as worries the UK will crash out of the EU without a trade deal mounted. By mid-afternoon on Wednesday against the dollar, sterling was 0.1 per cent higher at $1.2910.
Ken Odeluga, market analyst at CityIndex, said key EU and Brexit protagonists were expressing “highly conditional optimism” and even “confidence” about reaching a deal - a far cry from the near ‘no deal’ consensus of a few weeks ago.
“The most substantial development for sterling would be, if confirmed, any suggestion from (Michel) Barnier’s office that more time could be offered at any stage,” Mr Odeluga said. Analysts at Commerzbank also noted British government papers due to be published this week which analyse the possible consequences of a no-deal Brexit would be key for sterling’s near-term performance.
Clive Shelton, director at money transfer provider EasyFX, said currency markets had already priced in much of the risk of a ‘no deal’ Brexit, and that a greater risk for companies lay in sterling rallying should a deal go through.
“There is a chance that firms could over-hedge which could lead to significant loses. Rather than taking a one-sided view that sterling will fall, firms must think about how to reduce risk whatever the outcome,” Mr Shelton said. – Reuters