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Sterling steadies as virus curbs dampen rate hike hopes

The pound held steady on Thursday, just above its 2021 low hit the day before when Britain announced tougher restrictions against COVID-19 as the emergent Omicron variant spreads.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday evening announced the implementation of a ‘Plan B’ against the virus, ordering people to work from home, wear masks in public places and use vaccine passes. read more

The spread of the new variant and subsequent imposition of those restrictions lowered expectations that the Bank of England will raise interest rates in the near term, which had bolstered the pound against the dollar in recent months.

Prior to Wednesday’s announcement of the new curbs, market watchers had seen the central bank lifting rates as soon as next week.

The pound early on Thursday was at $1.3204 against the dollar , just above the 2021 low of $1.3162 hit on Wednesday.

However, it rose 0.28% against the euro , reaching 85.74 pence.

Reporting by Lawrence White; Editing by Susan Fenton

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