Pound Stays Near Highest Since May; No Brexit Vote Coming Monday

Anooja Debnath
Pound Stays Near Highest Since May; No Brexit Vote Coming Monday

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Sterling traded near a five-month high amid speculation Prime Minister Boris Johnson will eventually be able to win parliamentary backing for his Brexit deal.

The pound clung to the $1.30 mark, even as House of Commons Speaker John Bercow rejected the government’s attempt to bring back the divorce agreement for debate Monday.

A vote on the deal failed at the weekend and that pressured sterling at the market open. But the British currency has since recovered, with strategists arguing that any dip would prove short-lived, and approval for the deal may ultimately be possible. U.K. government bonds slid and stocks advanced.

With the parliamentary vote likely to be decided by fine margins, sterling failed to build on gains after breaching the $1.30 mark. The U.K. prime minister needs to garner support of 61 Members of Parliament to back his deal -- he likely has 62, according to a Bloomberg analysis.

“It’s all to play for and while the numbers in parliament are extremely tight, we would give the probability of success for the government at 60%,” strategists at MUFG, including Lee Hardman, wrote in a client note before the speaker’s decision Monday. “We would expect to see sterling into a new equilibrium range of $1.30-$1.35 if parliament approves the deal as we expect.”

The pound rose as much as 0.2% to $1.3013 after a four-day run of gains last week. Gilts fell, with the 10-year yield climbing four basis points to 0.75%, while the domestically focused FTSE 250 index of stocks extended two weeks of gains.

“The price action today suggests that the FX investors are fairly comfortable holding on to their pound positions, notwithstanding the lingering political uncertainty in the U.K.,” said Valentin Marinov, head of Group-of-10 strategy at Credit Agricole SA. “This could point at further pound resilience on the back of abating concerns about a no-deal Brexit and/or hopes for a Brexit deal.”

Some analysts remained cautious, given a set of potential amendments on a second referendum and a customs union is being considered.

“Even if there is a positive outcome for the government, then the next set of risks are the actual amendments,” said Petr Krpata, chief currency strategist at ING Bank. If the customs union motion is passed “there is a risk that the whole bill will lose the support of the hard-line Conservative Brexiteers and the deal won’t eventually have a majority. So still plenty of uncertainties.”

(Adds House Speaker’s decision in second paragraph, updates prices)

--With assistance from Charlotte Ryan.

To contact the reporter on this story: Anooja Debnath in London at adebnath@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Paul Dobson at pdobson2@bloomberg.net, Anil Varma

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