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John From Moneycorp

The Pound vs Australian dollar

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Pound looking to end the week on a high

After some difficult weeks, the pound looks to be ending the week on a high, rising against most major currencies.

Positive retail sales in the UK and snippets of good news on the Brexit front this week appear to be contributing from the pound’s perspective.

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The big news was on Friday last week as Britain and the EU came to an agreement. EU President Jean-Claude Juncker confirmed that sufficient progress had been made to move on to trade talks between the UK and the EU.

The latest talks provided some resolution on the matter of the Irish border and reassurance of EU citizens’ rights.

Following the announcement, there has been a lot of scrutiny on the Irish border issue and how, in fact, this will be resolved. 
 

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Sterling soars

The British pound has accelerated to the front of the fleet. Although the UK employment data were constructive, they were not remarkable enough to justify the pound's progress: Investors were buying sterling because it was going up.

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Pound boosted today.

The Bank of England (BoE) Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) voted unanimously to maintain the interest rate at 0.5%. There were hints that rate rises would be on the cards for the future as the Bank of England upgraded forecasts for UK growth from 1.6% to 1.8% for this year. If the economy progresses as forecast, the Monetary Policy Committee highlighted that “monetary policy would need to be tightened somewhat earlier and by a somewhat greater extent over the forecast period”.


 

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Latest currency round up is below – thanks.

The Australian economic data came and went without fuss.  There weren't many of them and they were not hugely important.  Private sector lending was just about on target, private capital spending fell slightly in the fourth quarter and January's new home sales were disappointing.  The main downward pressures on the Aussie came from the United States, first because US interest rates could rise more quickly than previously thought and second because the president intends to impose steep taxes on imported steel and aluminium.  Investor fear that those tariffs and retaliatory measures by other countries will be bad for trade and bad for the Aussie.  The currency lost two thirds of a US cent but added half a cent against sterling.

The pound's (perennial) problem was Brexit talk.  This time it was the EC president and two former prime ministers what weighed in against the government's strategy.  The prime minister will do her best to defend it in a speech this Friday.
 

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Yesterday, sterling surged with news that Michel Barnier and David Davis, EU and UK Brexit negotiators respectively, are moving closer to an agreement on transitional deal ahead of the EU summit at the end of the week.

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Review over the last week is below - thanks.

The Aussie and the Kiwi came out of the week in better shape than the Canadian dollar but that is not saying much. Both were down by about 1% against sterling. Australia's dollar lost three quarters of a US cent and weakened by more than a cent and three quarters against the pound. The only significant Australian ecostat was the house price index. It was down by 0.7% in the first quarter of the year, reducing the annual increase to 2.0%. The minutes of the Reserve Bank of Australia's policy meeting were unhelpful: they no longer included the comment that the next move is more likely to be "up rather than down".

Sterling's relatively successful week owed much to the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee. At Thursday's meeting three of the nine members voted for an immediate increase in Bank Rate. One of those three was the bank's chief economist, Andy Haldane

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Latest review of the pound and Australian dollar is below - thanks.

The Aussie was last week's winner, strengthening by a cent and a quarter against sterling and adding a quarter of a US cent. It was not an easy win though: Having led the way initially, the Australian dollar gave back two and a half cents before staging a second rally. Australian economic statistics were few; business confidence was roughly steady and consumer confidence improved. The main factor for the Australian dollar was external, and negative; America's imposition of tariffs on another $200bn of Chinese goods.

The main determinants for sterling were Brexit and Trump. At the beginning of the week unanimous government support for Theresa May's latest Brexit plan helped it higher. That support was eroded by the resignation of Boris Johnson. It was undermined comprehensively by Trump's comments on Theresa May and his support for her replacement by Johnson. 

Brexit news as usual has been dominating proceedings in the UK.

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