October 9, 2018 / 10:08 AM / 12 days ago

Sterling weakens as Brexit concerns weigh

* Graphic: World FX rates in 2018 tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh

* Graphic: Trade-weighted sterling since Brexit vote tmsnrt.rs/2hwV9Hv

LONDON, Oct 9 (Reuters) - The British pound drifted nearly half a percent lower on Tuesday on the back of a stronger dollar and as investors booked profits after last week’s rally on rising hopes of a breakthrough in Brexit negotiations.

The British pound edged 0.4 percent lower at $1.3041 nearing a one-month low hit last week. Against the euro , the British currency was 0.2 percent weaker at 87.86 pence.

“The pound can definitely move higher from current levels but the markets are waiting for news on a substantial breakthrough in Brexit negotiations and until that materializes, we are trapped in a range,” said Viraj Patel, an FX strategist at ING in London.

European Union negotiators said on Friday an agreement with Britain was “very close” and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said on Saturday a deal would be reached in November, if not this month.

While hedge funds have bought the pound in recent days, overall short positions on the currency are at their highest levels in 16 months, according to futures data.

Many investors have preferred to sit on the sidelines rather than try to profit amid the political unpredictability and the currency’s sharp price swings.

Mike Amey, head of sterling portfolios at fund management giant PIMCO, said he held a moderately long position on sterling versus the euro, predicting a gradual rise over the next 12-18 months, because the market was “too pessimistic” about prospects for a disruptive Brexit.

Its losses have been smaller against the euro as concerns about a row between Brussels and Rome over Italy’s proposed budget deficit targets have added to the euro’s woes in recent sessions. (Reporting by Saikat Chatterjee Editing by Keith Weir)

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