Sterling bounces higher as dollar surge eases

LONDON (Reuters) -The British pound rose on Tuesday, moving away from 21-month lows against the dollar as traders took profits on the recent surge in the U.S. currency ahead of both Federal Reserve and Bank of England monetary policy meetings this week.

FILE PHOTO: An employee is seen walking over a mosaic of pound sterling symbols set in the floor of the front hall of the Bank of England in London, in this March 25, 2008 file photograph. REUTERS/Luke Macgregor/files

The Bank of England (BoE) meeting, which is expected to result in a 0.25-percentage-point rise in interest rates on Thursday, is the big event of the week for sterling.

In recent weeks the pound has fallen sharply as investors have piled into dollars in expectation that the Federal Reserve will raise rates faster than other central banks and that the U.S. economy will hold up better than others in the face of soaring inflation and slowing global growth.

The U.S. central bank will meet on Tuesday and Wednesday and is expected to raise interest rates by 50 basis points - the first of a series of aggressive hikes expected by money markets. Rises totalling 270 basis points by February are priced in.

On Tuesday, sterling climbed 0.5% to as high as $1.2566, compared with a 21-month low of $1.2412 hit last week.

ING analyst are expecting a 0.25-percentage-point BoE rate rise this week.

“We think that would prompt a bit more dovish repricing across the GBP curve and the pound could moderately weaken after the rate announcement,” they said in a note.

“Such weakness should prove more pronounced against the dollar, which could find some more support from the FOMC meeting, and EUR/GBP upside could still be capped to the 0.8450-0.8500 area for now,” they added.

Sterling traders will also be watching UK local elections on Thursday. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s ruling Conservative Party is expected to suffer losses but most analysts don’t think that will lead to a leadership contest in the short-term.

The pound has held up better against the euro in recent weeks, remaining in a relatively tight trading range.

But on Tuesday, after rising earlier in the day, the pound was last at 84.18 pence, down marginally on the day.

The “BoE have reason not to risk upsetting the consumer too much with drastic hikes, leaving 25bp (basis points) as a compromise,” said Mizuho rates strategists.

Reporting by Tommy Wilkes Editing by Bradley Perrett and Mark Potter