Sterling climbed against the dollar on Monday after the EU and UK announced that they will “go the extra mile” and continue with Brexit negotiations. 

After last week, when the pound fell due to concerns over a no-deal Brexit, this week the pound rose reversing some of its losses. The Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen agreed during a “constructive” call on Sunday to “go the extra mile” in order to secure a trade deal for the UK. With no deadline for negotiations, British officials have said that negotiations could continue until Christmas. 

What do analysts say?

Whatever happens to the pound is going to have an impact on Thursday’s Bank of England meeting which is expected to remain on hold. Analysts believe that if markets are worried and the pound falls on the prospect of a no deal, then the BoE might increase its QE purchases within a short period of time. Nonetheless, pound volatility as we near the end of 2020 is to be expected. 

Goldman Sachs has predicted that the pound will rise if there is progress towards a deal or a no-deal Brexit is avoided. Barclays analysts explained that there will be risks to the pound until an agreement is reached. As the Financial Times reported, some analysts have changed their mind, quoting Gregory Perdon, co-chief investment officer at Arbuthnot Latham, who had “second thoughts” about the pound rising, but he reiterated his hopes for a deal as  “both parties are probably better off economically with a deal.” “Let’s hope rationality wins in this instance,” he added. 

Others more pessimistic, have warned that the pound’s gains might be short-lived, as both the UK and EU have failed to reach a deal repeatedly in the past.

Talking to Reuters, Junichi Ishikawa, senior foreign exchange strategist at IG Securities said: “This is a temporary move higher in the pound, but it is still not clear that a no-deal scenario can be avoided.”

Whether there is a deal or no deal, some investors feel that the pound could still move sharply.

What’s next?

The UK left the European Union on 31 January 2020, but the ongoing negotiations between the UK and EU officials are focussing on securing and negotiating a deal about the rules that will determine and define the kind of relationship the two parties will have post-Brexit. Michel Barnier has commented that Boris Johnson has made a mistake for hoping to negotiate an agreement within only 11 months.

The two sides have until 31 December 2020 to agree a trade deal and, if there is a deal, border checks and taxes will be introduced. The transition period ends on 31 December, and tariffs and quotas will be introduced in the event of a no deal.

A joint UK-EU statement stated that “despite the fact that deadlines have been missed over and over we think it is responsible at this point to go the extra mile."

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Sterling rose after renewed hopes that a Brexit deal is still possible, as the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is heading to Brussels for a meeting with the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen. Heightened volatility is expected as the meeting could take place any time this week or over the weekend, with any rumours possibly to move the currency.

On Monday, the GBP suffered losses after news that the negotiations reached a stalemate, and the PM stated that he was willing to walk away. But, later, on Monday, as it was announced that Johnson would be travelling to Brussels for a face-to-face meeting with von der Leyen, the pound regained some of its losses. News about the meeting is not yet clear and markets expect the two to either meet on Wednesday or possibly Friday. On Thursday, a meeting of European Council EU leaders will also take place, and many predict that the meeting with von der Leyen could even take place in the weekend, to allow EU leaders to approve of a new mandate for the EU Commission President before the meeting.

With confidence dwindling and the possibility of a deal becoming more and more distant, markets will remain sensitive to any Brexit updates. While everyone was expecting Johnson and von der Leyen to discuss over the phone, the announcement of a physical meeting caught markets by surprise. At the current moment everyone hopes that a breakthrough could be reached by an intensification of negotiations at a more personal and political level.

What to expect for Sterling in 2021?

A lot depends on a positive Brexit outcome. The currency is also correlated with global business and economy, so any general positive upswings will also boost the pound. According to economists at Oxford Economics, global economy will expand and the UK will benefit from the trend, especially after being so badly impacted by the pandemic.

However, if both sides fail to reach an agreement, the Pound could fall below parity, as many believe there is much more downside risk than upside. There is a real risk to the outlook of the UK economy and the pound if a no deal outcome ensues, but, at the same time, there are multiple scenarios possible: a deal or no deal, as well as a so-called cooperative no deal and an uncooperative no deal. An uncooperative no-deal Brexit will be more disruptive than a cooperative no-deal Brexit, in which the EU and the UK will be able to cooperate on a number of pressing emergency issues.

The UK government announced on Monday 7th Dec. that they will remove those elements that the EU openly disagrees with in the possibility of a trade deal, including the law-breaking clauses of the Brexit Bill. However, the clauses might return if a trade deal is not agreed, which will point towards a hard, uncooperative no deal Brexit. In this scenario, the pound will fall to the lower end.

Are you Transferring Funds Abroad?

With the ongoing Brexit negotiations and unexpected volatility, contacting a currency specialist could save you time and money. If you are sending your family members money, get in touch with Universal Partners FX to find out how much you can save in your international money transfers. Universal Partners FX can provide invaluable help on efficient risk management and tailored solutions to your personal transfer needs.

The pound appears to have risen ahead of the weekend, as Brexit negotiations continue. EU ambassadors have been told that a trade and security agreement with Britain is almost ready to be finalised as gaps on the contentious issues are “slowly shrinking.”

Both sides however remain inflexible, with European politicians saying that there remains work to be done and the UK saying that the EU needs to compromise. The risk of a no-deal Brexit in six weeks is still high.

According to a Bloomberg article, the UK “hasn’t moved sufficiently to overcome the main obstacles to a post-Brexit trade deal as three of the bloc’s leaders called for contingency plans to be stepped up in case there is no agreement.” Secretary General of the Commission Ilze Juhansone told envoys from the EU’s 27 member states on Friday that “negotiations could now slip into December as progress has been slow.”

On the other hand, the report noted that "The U.K. government has said that both sides have already made concessions on the three remaining areas of disagreement - access to British fishing waters, the level playing field for business, and how any deal is enforced - but that it’s up to the EU to make the final compromises."

A report on Reuters, stated that EU diplomats reported that “The European Union and Britain remain at odds in last-ditch trade talks over fishing rights, guarantees of fair competition and ways to solve future disputes, even though they are very close to agreement on other issues.” A senior EU diplomat told Reuters that “We are both close and far away. It seems that we are very close to agreement on most issues but differences on the three contentious issues persist.” Officials will continue negotiations online, as on Thursday it was announced that direct talks were suspended after a member of the EU team tested positive for COVID-19.

Negotiations are stuck

Negotiations have not progressed much as both sides remain unyielding on the main points: “Some things on the level playing field have moved, albeit very, very slowly. Fisheries are not really moving anywhere right now.” In terms of state aid, Britain has offered to set up a regulator for corporate subsidies, as the EU requested, but this was rejected as the body needed to be independent from the government and with a clear authority. Another EU official said that “negotiators mostly focused on such elements of corporate fair play as well as divvying up fishing quotas in recent days: ‘Both of these are still very stuck.’”

Pound Rises despite Brexit deadlock

The pound has risen against the Euro, Dollar and other major currencies, as negotiations continue. Markets remain confident that both sides will strike a deal despite the persistence of major differences. In the possibility of a trade agreement being reached the next two to three weeks, the EUR is expected to fall, something that will also be supported by positive news about a vaccine for Covid-19.

Are you Transferring Funds Abroad?

With the ongoing Brexit negotiations and unexpected volatility, contacting a currency specialist could save you time and money. If you are sending your family members money, get in touch with Universal Partners FX to find out how much you can save in your international money transfers. Universal Partners FX can provide invaluable help on efficient risk management and tailored solutions to your personal transfer needs.