Markets News

Pound set for first weekly gain in three weeks before retail sales data

* Graphic: World FX rates in 2020

* Graphic: Trade-weighted sterling since Brexit vote

LONDON, Jan 17 (Reuters) - The pound edged higher on Friday, on track for its first weekly gain in three weeks, as speculators took a break from selling in a week dominated by dismal data and dovish comments from policymakers.

A raft of Bank of England policymakers this week including outgoing governor Mark Carney have signalled that a rate cut is likely unless economic data improve significantly.

Compounding the pound’s agony has been torrid data this week with weak inflation readings on Wednesday raising the likelihood of a 25 basis point cut to rates in January to roughly 60%, according to CME data.

Weak growth numbers on Monday including slower industrial an manufacturing production numbers pushed the pound to a three-week low of $1.2955 on Tuesday before the British currency rebounded more than 1% to hold below the $1.31 line.

“With no clear catalyst behind the advance, perhaps sellers decided to take a break after adding to bets that the BoE will soon decide to hit the cut-button,” said Charalambos Pissouros, a senior market analyst at JFD Group.

Traders are now preparing for December retail sales data due on Friday, followed by purchasing managers’ index (PMI) surveys next week.

Further evidence that Britain economy’s failed to improve after the general election on Dec. 12 will likely ratchet up expectations for a rate cut and knock sterling lower.

Against the euro, the pound rose 0.2% at 85 pence while it edged 0.2% up against the greenback at $1.3097. (Reporting by Saikat Chatterjee; Editing by Kevin Liffey)