Sterling steadies after improved market mood aids rebound

2 minute read

A bank employee counts pound notes at Kasikornbank in Bangkok, Thailand, October 12, 2010. REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang

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LONDON, Jan 26 (Reuters) - Sterling steadied on Wednesday after recovering from the three-week low hit the previous session, as some calm in stocks led traders to buy back into hard-hit currencies.

Renewed political uncertainty around Prime Minister Boris Johnson weighed on sentiment, although the pound was mostly unmoved.

Sterling had dropped sharply in the past two weeks as panic in stock markets over the prospect of tighter interest rates encouraged investors to dump currencies deemed riskier.

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By 1555 GMT, sterling traded at $1.3503, unchanged on the day and above the $1.3436 low touched on Tuesday.

Versus the euro, the pound climbed 0.2% to 83.545 pence . Sterling has been a stronger performer against the single currency in 2022 as investors bet the European Central Bank will lag peers, including the Bank of England, in raising rates.

The BoE meets next week and markets expect a tightening for a second time since the pandemic hit, raising rates 0.25% to 0.5% as policymakers try to rein in inflation rates currently running at more than double the BoE's target levels.

The latest revelations about more parties held at Downing Street in 2020 and attended by Prime Minister Johnson while Britain was in a lockdown mean more political uncertainty, with Johnson fighting for his position ahead of the release of an official inquiry. Police have also opened investigations into the events. read more

Analysts said Johnson's position looked at serious risk but should he be forced out, the pound was unlikely to move much in the medium term given the policies of the favourites to become his successor.

"While most Tory MPs have pledged to wait for the result of the investigations before moving to vote out Johnson, there now appears more consensus that the PM's tenure is close to its end," ING analysts wrote.

"Chancellor Rishi Sunak is currently seen as the most likely candidate to take over the role as PM: given no obvious implications for the UK economy or the Brexit stance for the moment, any change at the helm of the government should have a limited impact on the pound," they added.

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Reporting by Tommy Wilkes; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri and Marguerita Choy

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