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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Pound hits highest level since before mini-budget

Pound coinsPA Media

The pound has hit its highest level since mid-September, as investors welcomed the appointment of Rishi Sunak as prime minister and the dollar fell.

Sterling surged by 1.9% to $1.149 on Tuesday – the highest it has been since before Liz Truss’s mini-budget.

Long-term government borrowing costs also fell back to where they were last month, in a boost for Mr Sunak who took over on Tuesday.

Financial markets have been rattled by fears over the economy in recent weeks.

In a speech today, Mr Sunak warned the country faced a “profound economic crisis” with “difficult decisions” ahead.

Experts said the pound’s strength was partly a “relief rally” after Mr Sunak was appointed, but also due to the dollar’s weakness.

The American currency dropped on Tuesday after data showed slowing US house price growth and a decline in consumer confidence.

  • Five ways a falling pound could affect you

“It’s largely a dollar story, the dollar is losing ground across the board today,” Jeremy Stretch, head of FX Strategy at CIBC, told the BBC.

“But sterling was already having a good day, there’s no doubt there’s a relief rally here in terms of apparent stability in the macro-economic picture after Sunak came in.”

Last month, sterling plunged to a record low against the dollar and government borrowing costs rose sharply in the aftermath of former Prime Minister Liz Truss’s mini-budget.

Investors were spooked after then-Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng promised major tax cuts without saying how they would be paid for – something Mr Sunak warned about during this summer’s Tory leadership contest.

Mr Sunak, a former hedge fund manager, is seen as a safer pair of hands by investors.

On Tuesday, it emerged that new Chancellor Jeremy Hunt – who reversed almost all of Ms Truss’s tax cuts in a bid to stabilise the financial markets – had kept his job.

Mr Hunt is scheduled to set out his economic plan on tax and spending on 31 October.

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