The pound fell sharply again on Monday as investors rid themselves of riskier currencies amid the coronavirus pandemic. Sterling has been under pressure as it joined many global currencies that are currently selling against the dollar, which is the world’s most liquid currency and the safe haven of choice when confidence evaporates from financial markets.
The pound has also been weighed down by concerns that the UK’s approach to dealing with the virus, a staggered increase of measures leading to last night’s lockdown, is not the most effective. Britain’s large current account deficit has also made sterling vulnerable, while drastically weaker liquidity has exacerbated moves downwards.
Sterling fell as much as 1.6% by 1550 GMT before recovering slightly. Last week the British currency briefly touched a 35-year low of $1.1413.
Against the euro, sterling tanked by an even more significant margin. The euro added 2%, still some way off last week’s lows.
GBPUSD opened at 1.1645 and fell to a morning low of 1.1512. Despite a brief recovery, the pair continued to fall to close near a low of 1.1455
GBPEUR opened at 1.0881 and fell across the day, closing at a low of 1.0664
The dollar gained on Monday as investors waited on U.S. fiscal stimulus to blunt the impact of business shutdowns designed to halt the spread of the coronavirus, even after the Federal Reserve took unprecedented measures to support lending.
The Fed agreed to historical measures that would see it back the purchases of corporate bonds and direct loans to companies for the first time, expanding its asset holding by as much as needed to stabilise financial markets, and roll out a program “soon” to get credit to small and medium-sized businesses.
The dollar dropped sharply when the measures were announced, but gradually climbed back as investors looked to the government to launch stimulus. The dollar index fell on the announcement of new Fed support, before rising again, up 0.03% on the day.
Multiple central bank actions over the past week have so far been unable to stem dollar strength, or offset stock weakness.
EURUSD opened at 1.0699 and climbed to a midday high of 1.0795 before dropping back down to close at 1.0758