Sterling near six-week high as no-deal Brexit risks recede

Sterling near six-week high as no-deal Brexit risks recede

LONDON,. Sterling was steady today, lingering below a six-week high against the dollar reached on Monday, as investors assessed the chances Prime Minister Boris Johnson can strike a Brexit deal with the European Union before October 31.

The probability of a no-deal Brexit was still very much a concern for traders, given that Johnson stood firm on taking Britain out of the EU by the end of next month.

But the British parliament approved legislation which forces Johnson to request a deadline extension from Brussels if he cannot agree on a deal with the EU by mid-October.

Investors, calculating that the risk of no-deal Brexit is receding after the law passed, have pushed sterling from under US$1.20, the three-year low it reached early last week, to as high as US$1.2385 on Monday.

“Versus a year ago, no-deal risks are higher, but on balance no-deal risks over the last week or so have reduced,” said Justin Onuekwusi, fund manager at Legal & General.

By 1445 GMT on Wednesday, sterling was at US$1.2347, down 0.1 per cent . Against the euro, however, the pound gained 0.3 per cent to 0.8907.

The pound has also been supported this week by better-than-expected economic data, which confounded earlier expectations that the UK would fall into recession this quarter.

ING analysts said the pound had rebounded as traders betting against it were forced to close their positions.

“With the short squeeze in sterling under way, we have observed a general reduction in various sterling risk premia measures over the past week,” they wrote.

Volatility gauges suggest investors think the next “stress period” for the pound will come in late November and early December, the ING analysts said.

Sterling implied volatility embedded in two-month option prices which encapsulate the Brexit October deadline, has fallen to 9.35 vols from 15.45 vols reached at the beginning of September, its highest since the Brexit referendum in June 2016.

“With the UK Parliament suspended for the next five weeks, the pound may enjoy some more calm today / this week, but we expect pressure on sterling to return once the early elections are announced,” the ING analysts said. — Reuters

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