Sterling slides to three week trough following Barnier Brexit warning

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1 March 2018


The Pound skid by almost one percent against the US Dollar on Wednesday after comments from the EU’s chief negotiator suggested that a transitional exit period for the UK from the bloc was not guaranteed.

terling was comfortably the day’s worst performer among the major currencies after Michel Barnier told EU ministers in Brussels that talks were ‘in a form of stagnation’. Barnier seemingly hit out at Brexit secretary David Davis, who he criticised for not spending enough time in Brussels to negotiate. He also told reporters ‘the clock is ticking. I am worried by the time, which is short’. This will be of real concern to investors that had been hoping the UK would be granted a two-year transitional exit period from the European Union that could lessen the potential impact on the UK economy.

This rhetoric comes in sharp contrast to the relatively upbeat noises we have heard from both sides of the negotiations in the past few weeks. We now have renewed concerns that the exit talks could be potentially longer and more drawn out than expected and Sterling traders have reacted negatively to this. Investors will now look ahead to a keynote speech from Theresa May on Brexit tomorrow, which could prove another major event risk for the currency.

US GDP growth unrevised, Jerome Powell to speak this afternoon

Away from the UK, the Euro edged modestly lower against US Dollar yesterday, although spent much of the day fairly range bound. Thursday’s US GDP data for the fourth quarter was unrevised at 2.5% annualised, with currency markets taking it in its stride. Aside from the latest PCE index this afternoon, the Federal Reserve’s preferred measure of inflation, FOMC Chair Jerome Powell will be speaking again in the US.

Meanwhile, this morning’s manufacturing PMI out of the Eurozone showed a modest uptick for February. The business activity index increased to 58.6 from 58.5 last month, primarily driven by a strong performance in Germany. Producer price index data tomorrow morning is the next major release on the docket, although the Euro is likely to be driven by events elsewhere.