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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Pound suffers as European Central Bank hints at stimulus curbs

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Pound Sterling was wallowing at eight month lows against the euro, as investors continued to trade on news that the European Central Bank may start weighing plans to cut its stimulus program.

The pound was down more 0.2% versus the euro at 1.111, its lowest level since the start of November.

Versus the US dollar, sterling was relatively flat at 1.296.

Investors were piling into the European currency after ECB president Mario Draghi on Thursday signalled the governing council may start discussions over whether to cut back on its bond purchasing program sometime this autumn.

The euro’s rise also hit European stocks, driving the French Cac 40 down 1.57% and the German Dax down 1.66%.

The FTSE 100 also ended the day in the red, down 0.47% or 34.96 points at 7,452.91.

David Madden, a market analyst at CMC Markets UK, said: “Ultimately, traders suspect the central bank is prepping the market for a tapering of the bond buying scheme later this year.”

He said Mr Draghi “has a history of saying one thing and doing another”.

“So, when he tried to be deliver a dovish update yesterday, dealers just don’t believe him, and they feel he will talk about the stimulus program being trimmed in autumn.”

In the oil markets, the price of Brent crude was floundering as traders cast fresh doubt over the Opec cartel’s ability to get a grip of the global supply glut.

A report by Petro-Logistics predicted Opec supply to rise by 145,000 barrels per day for July, causing the oil price to drop by 1.3% to 48.64 US dollars a barrel.

The downward move took its toll on blue-chip oil majors, with Royal Dutch Shell B and BP down 25.5p to 2,086.5p and 3.95p to 446.3p respectively.

In UK stocks, telecoms giant Vodafone pushed higher despite dipping in the first quarter as the group was held back by its under-pressure India business.

Sales across the group fell 3.3% to 11.47 billion euro (£10.2 billion) in the quarter to June 30, with revenue in India plummeting 13.9% amid “continued price competition”.

Shares were up 1.1p to 226p.

Away from the top tier, online payments firm Paysafe was the biggest riser on the FTSE 250 after being approach by private equity giants Blackstone and CVC Partners over a possible takeover.

Under the terms of deal, shareholders in Paysafe would receive 590p per share, a 34% premium on the firm’s average price for the six months to June 30.

Paysafe’s largest shareholder, Old Mutual Global Investors, is recommending the offer.

Shares in the firm were up nearly 7%, or 37p to 579p.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Shire up 76p to 4,156.5p, Convatec Group up 5.1p to 313.2p, Next up 44p to 3,827p, and British American Tobacco up 60p to 5,485p.

The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were G4S down 10.8p to 330p, Micro Focus International down 57p at 2,195p, Smiths Group down 40p to 1,568p, and Paddy Power Betfair down 165p to 7,540p.

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