Sterling inches lower as Tory vote boost fades

Sterling inches lower as Tory vote boost fades

Sterling inched down from a six-month high against the euro and was a touch softer against the dollar, as a boost from the Brexit Party’s decision not to contest previously Conservative-held seats in Britain’s upcoming election faded.

The pound had rallied as much as 1% versus the dollar on Monday after Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage said that to better tackle anti-Brexit forces he was standing down candidates in seats won by the Conservatives in 2017.

While the move was seen as a boost for Conservative prime minister Boris Johnson ahead of the December 12 election, currency analysts said plenty of headwinds for sterling remained.

This was reflected in a more cautious note to trading in the latest session.

“Yesterday’s (Monday’s) sterling move was very large for what we saw as a limited change in the outlook for the election,” said Adam Cole, head of FX strategy at RBC Capital Markets.

“A Tory majority is a bit more likely but there are still obstacles,” he said.

Sterling traded at $1.2840, and against the euro was a touch firmer on the day at around 85.76 pence, but slightly weaker than the six-month peak of 85.62 pence it hit on Monday.

If the Conservatives win a majority, the pound could bounce 3%, according to a recent Reuters poll. Bookies now say a Tory majority as the odds-on favourite.

Jim Reid, a strategist at Deutsche Bank, said that while the Brexit Party move was positive for the Conservatives, it might only bring an additional 10 to 15 seats.

“So, helpful to the Tories rather than game-changing,” he said.

Meanwhile, an opinion poll by Survation showed the lead held by the Conservatives over the main opposition Labour Party had narrowed over the past week. Support for the Conservatives rose one point to 35%, while Labour was up three points to 29%.

Economic data continued to play second fiddle to the looming election.

Britain’s employers cut the most jobs in over four years between July and September, according to official data which highlighted how the labour market is slowing.

The unemployment rate fell back to 3.8%, its lowest level since early 1975, during the third quarter. But falling employment, weaker wages growth, and fewer vacancies pointed to a weaker outlook.

Currency analysts said a weakening economy and expectations for a Bank of England rate cut in the months ahead were additional reasons to be cautious on the pound.

Two Bank of England policymakers voted to cut rates last week and others could follow if growth remains weak and uncertainty persists about the longer-term trade ties between Britain and the EU.

Meanwhile, the Dublin economy is approaching full employment even as spending from visitors travelling from Britain has fallen again, according to the quarterly Dublin Economic Monitor prepared by the local authorities in the capital. The monitor also said that the average monthly rent in Dublin had topped €1,700 and that the number of housing completions had fallen in the quarter from a year earlier for the first time since 2015.

On jobs, “the capital is close to full employment, with the areas of finance, insurance, and real estate activities hitting all-time highs, supported by Brexit relocations,” said Fingal County Council at the launch of the

citywide

report.

Reuters and Irish Examiner

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