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  • EUR/GBP has been on the rise towards 0.9100 on Friday, having failed to sustainably push below 0.9000 this week.
  • Weighing on GBP is a combination of Brexit concerns, dovish BoE speak and worsening Covid-19 trends.

Having failed to sustainably hold below the 0.9000 level on Wednesday and Thursday, EUR/GBP is on Friday pushing back towards the 0.9100 level as Brexit negotiations remain at loggerheads. At present, the pair is trading in the 0.9060s, a little below highs of the day at 0.9083 and is up around 30 pips or 0.3%. On the day, GBP is the worst G10 performing currency and is down around 0.7% vs the US dollar.

Brexit still stuck

Latest news flow on the state of Brexit negotiations does not paint an optimistic picture that a deal is going to be reached in the coming or days or, indeed, in time for ratification on both sides of the English Channel prior to the end of the year.

EU sources speaking to a Sky reported reportedly said that the EU and UK are clearly still far apart on fisheries, but also noted that differences remain on level playing field, rules of origin, state aid and provision of internal market. The source added that it is impossible to say if we will end up with a deal or not.

This comes after Thursday’s call between UK PM Boris Johnson and EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen went badly, with the UK PM stressing that talks are in a serious place and the EU will have to move its position, particularly on fisheries, by a large margin in order for them to be a deal.

Not all the news has been bad; EU Brexit Negotiator Barnier is reportedly in talk with Coastal EU states about making a more favourable rebate offer regarding continued access to UK fisheries. He reportedly believes if he can get an improved offer, there could be a deal, although UK sources have not addressed whether this might be the case or not.

Meanwhile, reports also suggest that individual EU countries will be able to bypass (temporarily) the EU parliament and immediately ratify any trade deal that might be struck at the last minute prior to the end of the year. If true, this helps remove the risk of an “accidental” no deal.

Dovish BoE speak, concerning Covid-19 trends also weigh on sterling

A few other factors are likely also contributing to GBP underperformance on Friday. Firstly, another Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee member has come out in favour of negative rates; Gertjan Vlieghe said that negative rates could help the UK complete its economic recovery. Moreover, he argued that any rate cut must be greater than 10bps to have an effect and a mixture of rate cuts and more QE would be the most effective means of further easing monetary conditions.

Elsewhere, the latest estimate of the Covid-19 R rate (the number of people each infected person spreads the virus to on average) in the UK is out and is up to a range of 1.1-1.2 from the last estimate of under 1.0. The estimated daily growth rate of infections is now 1-4%, up from -2.0-0.0% before. In London, the picture is even more concerning with the R rate estimated at 1.1-1.3 and daily growth rate of infections estimated at between 3-6%. Government scientists are already talking about imposing another post-Christmas national lockdown that would be even harsher than the lockdown back in November.