October 21, 2019 / 8:09 AM / 23 days ago

FOREX-Sterling slips on Brexit vote delay, dollar claws higher

* Sterling falls 0.6% in Asian trade

* Pound slips after UK parliament forces Brexit delay

* Dollar higher but on course for worst month since Jan 2018

* Yen stays weak ahead of BOJ meeting

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

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

By Marc Jones

LONDON, Oct 21 (Reuters) - Sterling fell as much as 0.5% after Britain’s parliament delayed a crucial vote on the government’s new Brexit plan, while the dollar, which is on course for its worst month since January 2018, clawed higher.

It was little surprise to see sterling backing off 5-month highs on Monday after “super-Saturday” failed to live up to its billing, ensuring more Brexit drama to come.

Asian trading had delivered an instant hit and by the time European trading settled, the pound was down 0.4% to $1.2920. It had closed last week at just below $1.30 having soared 6.5% since British Prime Minister Boris Johnson struck a new EU divorce deal on Oct. 10.

“The number one issue now is whether they are going to allow the vote (on the deal) to happen later,” said Saxo Bank’s head of FX strategy John Hardy, who added the FX market now seemed to be betting on the deal being approved.

“You could see further (upward) reaction if that is the case but also quite some downside if there is a delay and we get back into what happens next.”

Despite Saturday’s delay of the deal vote, which meant Johnson had to begrudgingly ask the EU for another extension of the Brexit deadline, UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told the BBC that he was confident enough lawmakers would pass the deal.

The political manoeuvring puts the timing of the whole process in question yet again, even though markets seem assured that it significantly reduces a ‘no deal’ Brexit, considered by many to be the worst-case scenario for the UK economy.

“Although many eyes are still on Brexit, there is not so much nervousness in the market as the risk of a no-deal Brexit has actually reduced over the weekend,” said Shinichiro Kadota, senior forex and rates strategist at Barclays in Tokyo.

Goldman Sachs said it sees the chance of a ‘no deal’ Brexit reduced to just 5%, from 10% previously.

Elsewhere, currency moves were limited though the last few weeks has seen some sizeable shifts taking place.

The dollar is down 2.5% this month against a basket of top currencies which, if it stays that way, would be its worst month since January last year.

It edged up against the euro to $1.1157 per euro but was little changed at 108.48 to the safe-haven yen. The yen has been weak too, last week hitting a 2-1/2-month low.

CENTRAL FOCUS

The Bank of Japan meets later this month and could nudge its interest rates even deeper into negative territory, while Thursday will be Mario Draghi’s last meeting in charge at the European Central Bank.

China’s yuan firmed on Monday after the central bank fixed the daily midpoint at its strongest in five weeks, and a comment from the central bank chief that the exchange rate was at the “appropriate level” reinforced market sentiment.

Prior to market opening, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) set the midpoint rate at 7.0680 per dollar. It was 10 pips firmer than the previous fix of 7.0690, and the strongest since Sept.16.

In a statement posted on the International Monetary Fund website on Saturday, PBOC Governor Yi Gang said the yuan is at “an appropriate level” based on economic and market fundamentals.

“Depreciation since the beginning of August has been driven and determined by market forces and reflects shifts in market dynamics and volatilities in global foreign exchange markets amid recent global economic and financial developments and escalating trade tensions,” Yi said.

Additional reporting by Tomo Uetake in Sydney; Editing by Alexander Smith

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