Off The Wire
Pound gains against euro but Brexit talks weigh
LONDON (Reuters) - Sterling gained on Thursday as traders bought back into the currency following its recent run lower, although worries about a second wave of COVID-19 infections and negotiations over a Brexit deal kept the rebound in check.
Analysts said there was no specific new development that pushed the pound higher, but with European equities steadying after earlier falls and some calm returning to markets, sterling was able to claw its way upwards.
The British currency rallied versus a broadly weaker euro, which was weighed down as riskier assets in the region, including Italian bonds, weakened, and as the European Central Bank fought back against a German court challenge to its money-printing plans.
Against the euro, sterling increased 0.2% to 90.42 pence after earlier hitting 90.01 pence - a one-week high.
Sterling’s gains versus the dollar fizzled and it dropped 0.1% to $1.2406. Before a sharp drop on Wednesday, the pound had traded around $1.254.
While the pound is roughly at the same level versus the dollar as in early May, against the euro it has fallen heavily and remains close to three-month lows of 90.775 pence.
Many analysts think several forces are lined up against the pound, which is vulnerable when broad risk sentiment among investors declines and traders want to own a currency they consider to be safer.
“Negatives seem to be piling up for GBP as the UK may (a) face a second virus outbreak right as it attempts to re-establish normality, and (b) get caught in U.S. protectionist fire,” ING analysts said in a research note.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has unveiled an easing of lockdown restrictions in England, but many health experts are warning of the risk of a second wave of infections.
Concerns whether Britain can get a deal on its future relationship with the European Union also weighed.
The pound extended losses when the EU’s chief negotiator said on Wednesday a deal was possible, but Britain needs to give clear signals it is ready to work towards one.
Positioning data shows that while net sterling bets remain short, they have fallen from their extreme levels seen earlier this year, mostly as a result of a recovery in global markets.
Graphic: GBP positions - here
Reporting by Tommy Wilkes; Editing by Mark Potter and Hugh Lawson