Pound headed for record tenth week of losses

LONDON (Reuters) - The pound was set for a record 10th week of consecutive losses against the euro on Friday as weak data and the growing possibility of interest rate cuts in the event of a chaotic Brexit kept investors sidelined.

The British currency, however, was trading slightly higher in the London afternoon session, both against the greenback and the euro.

The possibility the Bank of England could raise rates has been one of the few supports for the pound in recent weeks, as the Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank and other central banks turned dovish. Recent dismal data have dashed those hopes.

At the same time, concern has grown about a no-deal Brexit. The favourite to be the UK’s next prime minister, Boris Johnson, sees an Oct. 31 deadline as set in stone, regardless of whether Britain reaches a fresh agreement with the European Union on the terms of its departure.

“We expect the pound to continue weakening heading into the crunch autumn Brexit period,” said MUFG analysts in a note to clients. “The pound sell-off remains relentless with no clear end in sight.”

At a Thomson Reuters event on Friday, senior Bank of England official Gertjan Vlieghe said the central bank might need to cut rates almost to zero in the event of a no-deal Brexit and it was not clear how long it would take for them to rise again.

Vlieghe also said that a scenario in which the BoE cuts rates “is more possible” than a scenario in which it raises rates.

For those reasons the pound has struggled this week, notably against the dollar and the euro.

Versus the common currency EURGBP=D3, the pound was up by 0.2% at 89.65 pence, but was still on track for a record 10th consecutive week of losses.

Against the dollar, the pound GBP=D3 also edged 0.2% higher to $1.2545.

However, some market watchers are turning optimistic towards the British currency after its recent drop.

In trade-weighted terms, sterling “already trades at crisis levels and typically struggles to go much lower,” said Jordan Rochester, currency strategist at Nomura.

“A no-deal Brexit is a risk and would certainly make new lows in sterling, but that’s still a few months away and we do not expect the market to assign a high hard Brexit premium until parliament returns after the summer break in September,” Rochester said.

Moreover, with UK inflation expected to remain at the central bank’s target rate of 2% in June, according to economists polled by Reuters, the BoE should remain “on the sidelines for now until a new governor is chosen and in place in February 2020.”

The consumer price index is released on Wednesday.

Reporting by Olga Cotaga; Additional reporting by Saikat Chatterjee; Editing by Kirsten Donovan