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FX round-up: Sterling rests ahead of UK CPI, retail sales after rates-driven rises

By Andrew Schonberg

Date: Friday 17 Mar 2017

FX round-up: Sterling rests ahead of UK CPI, retail sales after rates-driven rises

(ShareCast News) - Sterling plugged its way through a Friday session of malaise as transatlantic and European traders took pause after this week's excitement around interest-rate decisions by the central banks of the UK and the US.
But traders are already looking ahead to next week's UK consumer-price index reading of inflation, as well as retail-sales figures for the country, which is expected to kick-start Brexit talks with EU by the end of March.

At 16:58 GMT, sterling was up 0.23% to $1.2389, and up 0.42% to €1.1529. The dollar-spot index was down 0.05% to $100.310.

Sterling went on a Wednesday-Thursday surge after the US Federal Reserve upped its benchmark interest rate, while Bank of England held its, notably on an 8-1 split vote by policy makers.

On Friday its moves were more modest. The British currency slipped a little on the aussie, kiwi, rand and yen, but managed a modest gain against the loonie.

HL Currency Service senior analyst Chris Saint said forex markets were taking a Friday rest after what had been a hectic few days.

"The wider context though is that the sterling/euro rate is still languishing towards the lower end of its 2017 trading range, some distance below the high of €1.19 seen less than a month ago," said Saint.

"Sterling almost got as high as $1.24 versus the US dollar earlier this morning, which is quite a reversal from the eight-week low close to $1.21 seen on Tuesday before the Federal Reserve went on to dampen expectations over how quickly US interest rates might rise."

IG chief market analyst Chris Beauchamp said the upcoming week was likely to be quieter than the one just been.

"UK CPI and retail sales will ensure that sterling remains a focus of attention," he said, adding it looked like "we are in for a period of quiet, at least where events are concerned."

Spreadex financial analyst Connor Campbell styled next week as "one of those dreary post-Fed calendars."

"That meant the UK inflation and retail sales readings -- most pertinent to sterling's current rebound, especially if the former hit 2.0% -- as the main focus for investors."

Meantime, the dollar was mostly lower on key crosses Friday, losing steam against the aussie, kiwi, rand and yen, but pattering a little higher on the euro and loonie.

"Cable is pretty well anchored with expectations still very bearish," said ETX Capital senior market analyst Neil Wilson.

"Article 50 machinations and the prospect of a nasty fight over a second Scottish referendum won't help the mood. It could be a wild ride once (Brexit) negotiations begin."

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