Sterling briefly fell against the US dollar in late Sunday trading on news that UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson was admitted to hospital for testing. The British currency fell 0.4%, in a knee-jerk reaction after the news, to a low of $1.2215 before recouping some losses to stand 0.3% down. Johnson was admitted in what Downing Street said was a “precautionary step” because he was showing ongoing symptoms of coronavirus ten days after testing positive for the virus.
The pound dropped on Friday after data showed a record slowdown among Britain’s services and manufacturing firms in late March as businesses and households halted activity in response to the lockdown. Sterling was last down 1.5%, having fallen earlier to its weakest level since Tuesday. Against the euro, it fell by 0.8%.
Analysts said the decline in the pound on Friday was exacerbated by low market liquidity for the currency as traders concentrated their attention elsewhere.
GBPUSD opened at 1.2340 and fell across the day to a low of 1.2226 before closing at 1.2228
GBPEUR opened at 1.1436 and performed similarly, closing near a low of 1.1330
The dollar stabilised against major currencies for a third straight day on Friday, as investors took shelter in the US currency amid worsening economic fallout from the coronavirus outbreak.
The dollar largely shrugged off the US non-farm payrolls report that showed job losses of 701,000 last month, compared with expectations of 100,000 lost jobs. March’s contraction ended a historic 113 consecutive months of employment growth. The Labour Department also revised February’s number upward to 275,000 job gains. The unemployment rate rose to 4.4% from 3.5% the previous month.
In afternoon trading, the US dollar index was up 0.4% at 100.61. The index made a 2.3% gain for the week.
The euro was down 0.4% against the dollar, on track for a 2.9% weekly loss. Indecision among eurozone governments about a rescue package for the region’s hobbled economies has weakened the euro in recent days. The Japanese yen, Swiss franc, sterling, as well as the Australian and New Zealand dollars all took losses against a stronger dollar. The dollar was last up 0.5% against the yen.
EURUSD opened at 1.0790 and remained stable throughout the day, closing little-changed at 1.0786