Sterling takes British reopening delay in its stride

Against the dollar the sterling dipped 0.1% to $1.4093, while the euro was 0.2% stronger versus the pound at 85.94 pence

  
A pile of one pound coins is seen, in central London June 17, 2008.

A pile of one pound coins is seen, in central London June 17, 2008.

REUTERS/Toby Melville

LONDON - Sterling was largely unmoved by Monday's news that Britain is set to delay the end of social distancing measures as the government seeks to contain a rapid rise in COVID-19 infections.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to announce a delay of four weeks to his February roadmap, under which his government signalled that all social restrictions to control the spread of the disease would be lifted "no earlier" than June 21.

Sterling, which has been one of the best performing currencies in 2021 as investors bet on a strong British economic rebound, hovered just below recent highs.

Against the dollar it dipped as much as 0.3% to a one-month low of $1.4069 GBP=D3 but recovered some ground to $1.41, down 0.1% on the day.

The euro was 0.2% stronger against the pound at 85.96 pence EURGBP=D3 , still stuck within the range of the past two months.

ING analysts said a delay to the easing of restrictions was expected and investors were more focused on economic data. 

"We do not think this does too much damage to GBP, which instead will be focused on fresh macro updates on jobs and retail sales - both expected to be GBP supportive," they wrote.

Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey is due to speak at an event later on Monday, with investors watching for any signals on the direction of monetary policy and his views on inflation.

The central bank has taken an initial step to slow the pace of asset purchases and investors are pricing in a first interest rate rise from record lows late next year.

Britain's relatively rapid COVID-19 vaccination rollout and signs of a strong economic rebound have bolstered sterling in recent months and encouraged investors to bring forward their expectations for some limited monetary tightening.

The Bank of England gathers for its next policy meeting on June 24.

(Reporting by Tommy Wilkes Editing by Alexander Smith and David Goodman)


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