April 1, 2019 / 8:27 AM / 4 months ago

Sterling rises as May faces pressure to go for soft Brexit

* Graphic: World FX rates in 2019 tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh

* Graphic: Trade-weighted sterling since Brexit vote tmsnrt.rs/2hwV9Hv

LONDON, April 1 (Reuters) - The British pound rose on Monday as investors prepared for parliament to vote on a series of Brexit options, with some hoping that the current uncertainty will end in a softer Brexit than Prime Minister Theresa May’s defeated withdrawal agreement.

May’s deal was voted down for a third time by lawmakers on Friday, sending sterling plunging to below $1.30.

But the British currency has held at or above that level since, suggesting some investors have priced out the prospect of Britain crashing out of the European Union without a deal and instead expect a long delay to the exit or Brexit to emerge eventually where closer ties are maintained to the trading bloc.

“There is a growing expectation that a (House of) Common’s majority could coalesce around a softer Brexit that includes a custom’s union but she is facing more threats from cabinet members to resign if she decides to pursue a softer Brexit,” MUFG analysts said.

Sterling rose 0.3 percent to $1.3076 by 0820 GMT, while the pound was flat at 86.035 pence per euro.

The analysts at MUFG said that while a no-deal Brexit on April 12 remained a risk for the pound, an emergency EU summit on April 10 could - if British lawmakers cannot agree anything this week - see a long delay to Brexit.

Parliament will vote on different Brexit options on Monday and then May could try one last roll of the dice by bringing her deal back to a vote in parliament as soon as Tuesday.

But May’s government and her party remain in open conflict.

Marshall Gittler, a strategist at ACLS Global, said he considered a no-deal Brexit “as a higher possibility, even though it’s officially been ruled out, simply because I don’t see any of the other endings as particularly possible.” (Reporting by Tommy Wilkes; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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