May 20, 2019

The British pound is sinking as traders rethink Brexit odds

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
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Data:; Chart: Axios Visuals

The British pound dropped to its lowest rate in 4 months against the dollar last week, and fell against the euro for 10 straight days, its longest losing streak since the euro was created.

Between the lines: Most analysts say the pound is reacting to the chances of a no-deal Brexit, but its movements suggest it's falling based on decreasing expectations of Brexit not happening at all (which would be positive for the currency).

  • The pound rose to a 1-month high against the dollar in early May after the governing Conservative Party, which is pushing Brexit, lost about 1,300 seats in local elections, the worst it's fared in more than 20 years.
  • The pound has been falling since, as Nigel Farage's Brexit Party is expected to perform well in Thursday's European Parliament elections.
  • On Friday, it fell to a 4-month low after Prime Minister Theresa May committed to announcing a departure timeline in June and the opposition Labour Party pulled out of Brexit talks.

Sterling has fallen against almost all of the world's major currencies, despite little in the way of hard data or commentary from Bank of England policymakers.

  • Last week's sell-off stands in stark contrast to the week leading up to April 15 when Britain was on the verge of leaving the EU with no trade agreement and the pound barely moved.

Go deeper: Everything you need to know about Brexit

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