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Sterling hit 20-month high yesterday

Published:  19 April, 2012

Sterling had a very strong day yesterday strengthening against all the major currencies whilst reaching a 20-month high of 1.223 against the euro.

Currency Rates

EURO/GBP - 1.2220
US$/GBP - 1.6039
CHF/GBP - 1.4697
CAN$/GBP - 1.5893
AUS$/GBP - 1.5481
ZAR/GBP - 12.5490
JPY/GBP - 130.73
HKD/GBP - 12.4422
NZD/GBP - 1.9638
SEK/GBP - 10.7986
AED/GBP - 5.8877
US$/EURO - 1.3122
INR/GBP - 82.99

Figures released showed that the number of new people claiming unemployment benefits rose by less than expected and the unemployment rate also dropped. The Bank of England's policy meeting minutes revealed that the MPC members voted 8-1 to keep quantitative easing unchanged as opposed to 7-2 last month which boosted sterling's strength as investors viewed that the likelihood of further quantitative easing in the short term had diminished. With very little data out of the UK today, the markets will look to absorb the news from yesterday while looking elsewhere for influence.

The euro was particularly weak against sterling yesterday, ended the day fairly flat against the US dollar; but was strong against the majority of other currencies. The Eurozone current account figures released yesterday were much worse than excepted posting a €1.3 billion deficit from an expected surplus of €4.1 billion. Furthermore, EU construction output for February was much worse than expected plunging by 7.1%. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) also stated that European banks may be forced to try and slash their balance sheets due to the on-going economic crisis potentially causing another credit crunch. A crucial Spanish 10 year bond auction will be held today and will go some way to show investors' confidence in the nation. There is the potential for even more volatility today.

The US dollar traded in a fairly similar pattern to the euro today, being weak against sterling, ending the day fairly flat against the euro; but strong against the majority of other currencies. Today sees a raft of data released in the US including manufacturing data; unemployment claims figures and the number of existing residential building sold in the last month.

Elsewhere, the Japanese yen was one of the weakest currencies today as the Bank of Japan hinted that it will expand its easing program. Sweden's central bank announced that it was keeping interest rates on hold at 1.5%. The Bank of Canada suggested that economy will be stronger in 2012 than it had originally forecast. Australian business confidence figures and Japanese trade balance data were released overnight; but, the markets will look to the on-going developments in Spain and the data released from the US for influence today.