HSBC upbeat on pound as currency extends gains

By BLOOMBERG

HONG KONG • Britain’s biggest bank is turning upbeat on its currency.

“We have changed our view on sterling, we have become more upbeat,” said David Bloom, global head of foreign-exchange (forex) research at HSBC Holdings plc, Britain’s biggest bank by market capitalisation told reporters in Hong Kong.

“There is a brand new probability now that maybe there is no Brexit.”

The pound has steadily advanced during the past five weeks as the UK government and Parliament wrangled over Prime Minister Theresa May’s proposed Brexit deal with the European Union (EU), which was resoundingly defeated by legislators this week. May survived a vote of confidence on Wednesday and opened cross-party talks on how to move forward.

If Britain stayed in the EU, the pound could surge to 1.55 against the dollar, Bloom said. That would represent a gain of about 20% from current levels of 1.2910 as of 1:30pm yesterday in London. In the case of a soft Brexit, the pound could rise to 1.37 — the bank’s new year-end 2019 forecast, up from 1.30 previously.

An exit from the union without a trade deal would involve sliding to 1.10, Bloom said on Bloomberg TV.

“There’s a possibility of a no-Brexit, there’s a possibility of a referendum, there’s a possibility of a delay,” Bloom said. “You have to blend the probabilities together to come up where you think the forex should be now.”

The pound remains about 13% below levels prior to its vote to leave the EU in June 2016.

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