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Sterling edges higher as investors eye Brexit talks
[LONDON] The British pound rose slightly on Tuesday as investors digested the latest Brexit developments, although sterling was below a three-week high as traders kept to their large short positions betting against the currency.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday he was prepared to take Brexit talks with the European Union down to the last minute before the Oct 31 exit deadline.
Mr Johnson's foreign adviser, David Frost, will visit Brussels on Wednesday to discuss alternatives to the Brexit withdrawal agreement, The Telegraph newspaper has reported.
Investors are growing increasingly concerned that Britain is headed towards a no-deal Brexit on Oct. 31, although some also believe the currency had moved too far downwards.
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn vowed to do "everything necessary" to stop a no-deal Brexit as he prepared to meet other lawmakers to discuss tactics to block the government's plans. Many investors are skeptical about the opposition's ability to stop Johnson.
Speculators cut their short positions against the pound in the week to Aug. 23, according to the latest CFTC positioning data, although outstanding shorts - at US$7 billion - remain close to their highest level in more than two years.
"Sterling's limited reaction to the trade tensions tells us the market's focus is clearly on Brexit," UBS global wealth management strategists said in a note on Tuesday, referring to the trade conflict between the United States and China.
"If the global economic outlook turns sour, the Bank of England could have to change tack and join the global central bank easing bandwagon. Thus, we acknowledge that risks have risen of the pound appreciating somewhat less than we forecast."
Sterling rose 0.3 per cent to US$1.2256, below the three-week high hit last week of US$1.2296.
Versus the euro the pound firmed 0.2 per cent to 90.725 pence .