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UPDATE 1-Pound hits fresh three-week high versus euro

15 Jan 2021 / 00:04 H.

    * Graphic: World FX rates in 2020 http://tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh

    * Graphic: Trade-weighted sterling since Brexit vote http://tmsnrt.rs/2hwV9Hv (Updates prices, rewrites throughout)

    By Ritvik Carvalho

    LONDON, Jan 14 (Reuters) - Sterling rose to a fresh three-week high against the euro on Thursday as pushed-back expectations of negative interest rates and hopes for a quicker economic recovery in Britain due to its vaccination drive buoyed the currency.

    The pound has gained against the dollar and euro, 1% and 1.5% respectively this week, after Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey threw a dampener on market expectations for sub-zero rates in Britain.

    Market pricing for negative interest rates has been pushed back by nearly a month, with such rates now expected in June 2021, compared with May 2021 previously.

    By 1546 GMT, sterling was 0.3% higher against the dollar at $1.3669, not far off the $1.3701 hit earlier this week.

    Against the euro, it rose to its highest level since Dec. 23, up half a percent on the day to 88.70 pence per euro.

    "We think there is a good case for a stronger pound with the UK leading the European vaccination race, our forecasts that the Bank of England will not join the negative interest rate club, and when the near-term adjustment problems at the borders to the new EU-UK relationship are over," said Kristoffer Kjær Lomholt, chief analyst, FX and rates strategy, at Danske Bank.

    With the uncertainty around a Brexit deal now largely dissipated, analysts are increasingly focused on Britain's economy and its prospects.

    COVID-19 infections have continued to surge in Britain, forcing renewed lockdowns.

    A boom in Britain's housing market has started to fade, curtailed by new lockdowns and the coming expiry of a temporary tax cut for buyers, a survey found on Thursday.

    The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors' monthly gauge of new buyer inquiries fell to a seven-month low of +15% in December, from +26% in November.

    (Reporting by Ritvik Carvalho; editing by Larry King and Pravin Char)

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