Lockdown Release Plans Help Sterling

British schools to reopen March 8; UK labor data unexpectedly upbeat.

The US dollar and the euro both lost ground against their British counterpart after the prime minister provided his schedule for the easing of quarantine restrictions. Boris Johnson said that the restrictions would be phased in with four steps; initially schools would reopen on March 8th. Mr. Johnson also said that it would be close to the end of June before most restrictions were removed. The pound was also supported by comments made by Rishi Sunak, the Finance Minister, who said that the details of the government’s efforts toward additional job support would be revealed soon.

In London trading at 11:16 am, the EUR/GBP was trading lower at 0.8627 pence, down 0.1713%; in today’s trading session, the pair has ranged from a low of 0.86199 pence to a high of 0.86578 pence. The GBP/USD was higher at $1.4080, easing away from the session peak of $1.40985 while the low stands at $1.40577. The GBP/JPY was also higher at 148.2540 yen, a gain of 0.3289% and off the session high of 148.359 yen.

UK Labor Data Unexpectedly Upbeat

Sterling was also supported by today’s data release. The UK’s Office of National Statistics reported on employment figures earlier. According to the ONS, the January Claimant Count change came in at -20K, well below the 35K that analysts had predicted. The ILO Unemployment Rate for the 3-month period through December was, as expected, at 5.1%. Average earnings was unexpectedly upbeat for the 3-month figure through December, coming in at 4.7% including a bonus and 4.1% excluding the bonus, beating analysts’ forecasts.

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