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Pound continues its downward trajectory

Published: 11 Feb at 12 PM Tags: Pound Sterling, Dollar Exchange Rate, UK, Economy, Inflation,

The pound started the week where it left off last week, by falling against the majority of the 16 most actively traded currencies in the market.

Economic data from the UK continues to much of a mixed-bag with all eyes on the Bank of England’s latest quarterly inflation report due out tomorrow when Governor Mark Carney could set out an extension to the Bank’s ‘Forward Guidance’ policy.

On the positive side, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) reported that price cuts helped underpin the strongest monthly rise in retail sales since March 2010 according to the latest data. Also, like-for-like sales rose by 3.9% in January compared to January 2013 with total sales rising by 5.4% versus 3% in 2013.

BRC Director-General Helen Dickinson said 2014 had started well for retailers, but she warned that February would be tougher.

Howard Archer, Director of economic research group IHS Global Insight said the sales rise was significantly stronger than expected, but he warned that other sectors of the economy needed to do their bit.

Not so clever was a report from Lloyds Bank which reported that business activity across England and Wales rose at their slowest pace for 7 months in January but this was tempered by the fact that this was the 15th month in a row that activity has risen.

The report from Lloyds also showed that private sector employment continued to grow across all nine English regions and Wales, with survey respondents saying rising levels of new work and more confidence about the economic outlook had underpinned recruitment at the start of the year.

Separately, the EY Item Club forecast that the consumer credit and residential mortgage lending markets would both rise at more than 3% this year with consumer credit set to rise by 3.1% after increasing just 0.8% in 2013 which EY said signalled a return to "some form of normality" after four years of falling credit availability.

EY's UK Head of Banking & Capital Markets, Omar Ali commented that "Despite growing economic momentum and forecast increases in lending, the environment for UK banks remains challenging."

The US dollar held steady despite a mixed US employment report on Friday.

The report showed a disappointing set of job creation figures but showed another fall in the overall level of unemployment.

Today sees the first of two days of testimony from new Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellon to Congress, her first opportunity to set out her policy initiatives and priorities.