LONDON, July 24 (Reuters) – The pound headed for a seventh straight day of losses on Monday against the dollar, its longest losing streak since the onset of the pandemic in 2020, after a survey showed Britain’s private sector growing at its slowest pace in six months in July.
The S&P Global/CIPS composite Purchasing Managers’ Index showed a preliminary reading of 50.7, down from 52.8 in June in the biggest month-on-month drop in 11 months.
Although above the 50-level that separates growth from contraction, it was the weakest reading since January.
Sterling was last down 0.2% on the day at $1.2827 having touched a session low earlier of $1.2808 after a preliminary survey of UK business activity showed a downturn in British manufacturing deepened, while the service sector also slowed.
“Rising interest rates and the higher cost of living appear to be taking an increased toll on households, dampening a post-pandemic rebound in spending on leisure activities” said Chris Williamson, chief business economist at S&P Global, which produces the data.
“Meanwhile, manufacturers are cutting production in response to a worryingly severe downturn in orders, both from domestic and export markets,” he said.
The pound has fallen for seven days in a row against the dollar, its longest losing streak since mid-March 2020.
Rate expectations in Britain have fluctuated wildly this month. Two weeks ago, money markets showed traders believed UK rates would peak at around 6.2% by next June.
Data points that have pointed to slowing inflation and weaker growth have prompted a reassessment that shows traders expect a peak of just 5.77% in rates by February, from 5% now.
In that time, the pound has fallen almost every day, losing around 2.6% in value. And yet speculators have built their most valuable bullish bet on sterling since 2014, according to weekly data from the U.S. markets regulator.
“Unsurprisingly, the pound weakened on the back of the scaling back of interest rate expectations, retreating to $1.2850 from its recent high of $1.31,” Rupert Thompson, chief economist at Kingswood Group, said.
“The silver lining here for UK investors was that this transformed last week’s gain in global equities of 0.6% in local currency terms into a 2.3% rise in sterling terms,” he said.
One of the drivers for flows into sterling this year has been the yield advantage it has boasted over U.S. Treasuries. Two-year gilt yields traded at their biggest premium to two-year Treasuries since mid-2011 just three weeks ago, at 45 basis points. That gap has since shrunk to parity.
Reporting by Amanda Cooper; Editing by Barbara Lewis
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