Sterling consolidates gains after change of UK finance minister

British Pound Sterling and US dollar notes are seen in this June 22, 2017 illustration photo. — Reuters pic
British Pound Sterling and US dollar notes are seen in this June 22, 2017 illustration photo. — Reuters pic

LONDON, Feb 14 — Sterling held to its recent jump today as traders stuck with the view that the new British finance minister would unveil a more expansionary budget next month.

With growth weak in Britain, many economists and investors want to see the UK expand fiscal spending to help weather the impact of Britain’s departure from the European Union at the end of last month.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson forced the resignation of finance minister Sajid Javid after the latter refused to sack his advisers.

He was swiftly replaced by loyalist Rishi Sunak, which investors interpreted as a move to tighten Johnson’s control over the Treasury and one that would pave the way for more public spending at a March budget. Javid was regarded as a fiscal hawk.

“Sterling may continue to hold the line against the dollar at close to US$1.30 (RM6.62) and stay firm against the weaker euro after the UK government reshuffle, which may lead to greater fiscal stimulus in next month’s budget,” analysts at UniCredit said in a note.

Expectations for a rate cut from the Bank of England before the end of 2021 have all but evaporated — money markets are now pricing in a full 25 basis point cut not before December 2021.

The pound rose marginally today to US$1.3048, retaining most of its gains from Thursday’s move. It had traded below US$1.30 before news broke of Sunak’s appointment.

Against the euro the pound rose 0.1 per cent to 82.995, close to a two-month high.

Attention next week will turn back to the health of the UK economy, with employment, inflation and retails sales numbers all due. — Reuters

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