Pound strengthens as UK manufacturing boosts optimism


The pound advanced against most of its major peers after manufacturing activity in the U.K. expanded at a faster rate than expected in January and a rally in commodities and stocks boosted investor sentiment.
Manufacturing production grew 0.7 percent against the 0.2 percent forecast in a survey of Bloomberg economists. Industrial production expanded by 0.3 percent, lower than forecast 0.4 percent but beating the 1.1 percent contraction in December.
“Solid manufacturing growth in January helped the pound by boosting optimism today, along with firmer oil and commodity prices,” said Ipek Ozkardeskaya, an analyst at London Capital Group.
The pound appreciated 0.5 percent to 77.08 pence per euro as of 11:45 a.m. London time, after its biggest decline since Feb. 24 on Tuesday. Sterling was little changed at $1.4223, after Tuesday’s decline ended a six-day run of gains that was the longest since the period ended June 19.
The U.K. currency has weakened since the start of the year as uneven economic growth and investor concerns over over “Brexit,” or a potential exit by Britain from the European Union, continue at the fore, further pushing back market expectations of the next rate hike by the Bank of England.
Governor Mark Carney warned that the U.K. leaving the European Union was ‘‘the biggest domestic risk to financial stability’’ and had some potential to amplify pre-existing risks to financial stability, in his testimony to lawmakers on Tuesday.

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