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Pound Sterling Today: GBP Starts Month on the 'Back foot'

Published: 3 Apr at 12 PM Tags: Pound Sterling, Euro Exchange Rate, Dollar Exchange Rate, Australian Dollar Exchange Rate, Forex, Euro Crisis, UK, Economy,

The short post-Easter trading week started with the pound falling against the majority of the 16 most actively traded currencies yesterday as further poor economic data out of the UK and speculation that the Bank of England may extend its bond buying Quantitative Easing (QE) program on Thursday eroded confidence.

Data wise, the Bank of England published data yesterday showing that UK mortgage approval figures fell to a five-month low in February and its lowest level since September 2012.

The latest figures contrast to recent data from both the Halifax and Nationwide which pointed to an improvement in the UK housing market.

Markit and CIPS jointly published data showing that the UK manufacturing PMI declined for a second consecutive month in March due mainly to lacklustre demand from both domestic and overseas markets.

The survey also showed output declining at its steepest pace since October 2012, mainly as a result of tougher markets and subdued client confidence. Markit/CIPS also referenced several reports which blamed stock management initiatives and ongoing bad weather conditions.

Markit Senior Economist Rob Dobson said "March PMI data indicate that the UK manufacturing sector contracted again during the opening quarter of 2013, to remain a drag on the broader economy. These weak numbers may be sufficient to tip the balance and convince more members of the MPC to consider additional QE at their meeting next week. The onus is now on the far larger service sector to prevent the UK from slipping into a triple-dip recession. The ongoing weakness of manufacturing and the hard to estimate impact of bad weather on first quarter growth suggest that this is still touch-and-go and that any expansion will be disappointing nonetheless."

The US dollar received a boost after another rally on Wall Street saw both the Dow Jones and S&P500 indexes reach yet another all-time high.

The euro was little changed yesterday despite data showing record unemployment in the euro zone and poorer than expected EU manufacturing data ahead of the European Central Bank's upcoming policy meeting. The ECB is widely expected to keep interest rates on hold in the wake of the recent bail-out of Cyprus.

Overnight, better than expected data from China showing an expansion of its services sector has further aided risk appetite benefiting high yielding currencies like the Australian dollar. The Aussie received a further boost after Reserve Bank of Australia Governor Glenn Stevens was reappointed for a further 3 year term.