(Adds missing words ‘since April’ in first paragraph)
By Joice Alves
LONDON – The pound edged lower and was on course for its worst week versus the euro since April, with analysts saying data showing Britain’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic sped up in April was slightly disappointing.
Britain’s GDP was a record 27.6% higher than a year earlier when the virus was rampant. But economic output remained 3.7% below its level in February 2020, before the pandemic led to lockdown measures.
Sterling fell 0.1% to 85.97 pence at 0830 GMT and was on course for its worst week versus the single currency since late April.
Versus the dollar, it was also down 0.1% to $1.4154, after falling to a one-month low of $1.4071 on Thursday.
“UK GDP data release this morning, while strong, did not quite meet market expectations. Also, reports that the re-opening of the economy could be delayed beyond June 21 should limit enthusiasm for GBP versus the euro,” said Jane Foley, Head of FX Strategy at Rabobank.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants to fully lift lockdown restrictions in England on June 21, helped by a swift vaccine roll-out that has brightened Britain’s economic outlook.
But with the Delta variant of COVID-19 first detected in India spreading fast, Johnson has said the lifting of lockdown could be delayed.
Sterling was under pressure this week after Britain and the European Union failed to agree on solutions to post-Brexit trade problems in Northern Ireland.
It won back a little ground on Thursday as investors expected the Federal Reserve to keep its policy unchanged even after data showed U.S. consumer prices climbed; while the European Central Bank maintained an elevated flow of stimulus as expected.
Sterling has also found some support from U.S. President Joe Biden’s key messages to Britain in his first meeting with Johnson, Rabobank’s Foley also said.
They “were more about the special relationship between the U.S. and the UK and less about issues related to the N. Ireland protocol,” she said.
Biden and Johnson met in Cornwall, southwest England, before the start of the G7 Summit on Friday.