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  • GBP/USD is moving sideways close to 1.3350, as traders await further Brexit developments.
  • The EU rejected the UK’s improved offer on fisheries, but talks continue and some still hope for a breakthrough imminently.

GBP/USD has flatlined in the 1.3350 region in recent trade, a little above session lows around the 1.3300 mark, but still lower on the day by about 110 pips or 0.8%. Having pushed higher above the 90.50 prior to the end of the European trading session, the Dollar Index (DXY) has been going sideways in the 90.60s in recent trade; this earlier USD strength was the main factor that pushed GBP/USD down from 1.3400 earlier in the day, though ongoing Brexit angst (more below) is also not helping and likely explains why GBP is the underperforming G10 currency on the day.

Trading conditions have quietened down notably over the last few hours since the exit of European traders from the market around the time of the EU cash close. Thin conditions this week ahead of Christmas mean that while FX markets are likely to be rangebound most of the time, a lack of market depth might leave pairs vulnerable to sudden moves. This will be most relevant to GBP pairs, as the volatility-inducing Brexit saga drags on and it remains a toss-up as to whether the two sides will be able to agree on a deal prior to the end of the year or not.

Brexit Update: Ball back in the UK’s court, will they improve their fisheries offer?

It’s been another barrage of mixed takes on the state of Brexit negotiations, but what is clear is that the EU’s response to the UK’s new offer on fisheries was a resounding NO; EU Chief Brexit Negotiator Barnier told EU ambassadors that the UK new offer that the EU should reimburse the UK with 35% of the value of catch made in UK waters did not include pelagic stocks, meaning the offer was actually closer to 60%. Reportedly he said “It’s not 25% versus 35%, it’s 25% versus 60%”, referring the EU’s current demand that it only want to reimburse the UK for up to 25% of its catch in UK waters. Clearly, the two sides are still a long way off then.

So the ball is now very much back in the UK’s court. Will they improve their offer on fisheries? Will there be a fudge to cross the final gap between the two sides? By the sounds of it, negotiating teams are going hard in the background. A BBC reported even suggested that rumours of a deal being close but not quite there yet were circulating in Brussels. The Sun, citing UK sources, reported that a “deal is on the table and both sides want to be home for Christmas eve” and ITV reported that negotiating teams are aiming to reach a deal by Wednesday night (though neither side is apparently overly confident that this will be possible).

So the news hasn’t been all bad. A few other factors to note for GBP is the news that the UK and France have seemingly reached a deal that will allow freight travel to France from the UK to resume, with soldiers reportedly set to be deployed to conduct tests on lorry drivers exiting the UK. France has told EU ambassadors that freight travel will resume from midnight.

Meanwhile, Germany has extended its travel ban from the UK until 6 January; concerns regarding the spread of the new variant of Covid-19 that has been detected in the UK may well still be weighing on GBP (and be another reason why GBP sits at the bottom of the G10 FX performance table on Tuesday). But this problem might be about to go global; the US CDC warned that the new, more virulent strain might already be spreading in the US undetected.