British Pound Sterling General Info
The three letter currency code for the British Pound Sterling is GBP and the symbol is £. It is the domestic currency in Guernsey, Isle of Man, Jersey, South Georgia And South Sandwich Islands and United Kingdom.
The British pound (ISO: GBP) is one base unit of sterling – that being the name of Britain's currency – and is subdivided into 100 pence.
Contributing to around 13% of all foreign exchange deals, the pound, or sterling, is the world’s fourth most traded currency.
Reputedly, sterling is 1200 years old. It is said that Anglo-Saxon traders used silver pennies in the eighth century called ‘sterlings’, 240 of which would equal one pound in weight.
Due to its membership of the European Union, Britain could have adopted the euro as its currency upon its introduction in 1999, however the British government opted against this because it wanted to retain monetary policy independence and because it perceived euro adoption as offering only small economic benefits.
In recent years, the most significant event to affect sterling’s valuation was the UK’s vote to leave the European Union on June 24th 2016 – a day on which the exchange rate for GBP/USD fell by as much as 11%.
In the past two decades, the pound’s highest valuation against the dollar occurred in November 2007 when GBP/USD reached 2.1161. Its lowest value came in October 2016, three-and-a-half months after the historic ‘Brexit’ vote, when GBP/USD reached 1.1905.
GBP - Currency Market News
Between mid-September and mid-October, sterling fell 3.5% against the dollar to $1.319, taking “cable” back to levels experienced in the three-month period following 2016’s EU referendum.
Against the euro, within the same period, sterling fell by 1.3% to €1.121 but it remains within the middle third of its 2017 range.
In mid-October, opinions on the British currency were mixed. Although Bank of England hawkishness meant that 75% of economists were predicting a November interest rate hike, which would normally be sterling-supportive, a “no deal” Brexit was looking increasingly possible and that prompted some pretty gloomy predictions.
In a “no deal” scenario, both ING and J.P. Morgan predicted that the pound would lose 13% of its value against the dollar by falling to $1.15.
Other negative news for the UK came in October with the ONS’ surprise downward revision to the UK’s wealth by some £490 billion! Ratings agencies had already been downbeat on the UK’s finances. In September, Moody’s downgraded the UK’s credit rating from Aa1 to Aa2 on the grounds that “fiscal pressures will be exacerbated by [the UK’s] departure from the EU.”
On a more positive note, in September, HSBC cancelled its forecast for the pound to fall to parity with the euro. HSBC’s revised year-end forecasts now place GBP/EUR at €1.12 and GBP/USD at $1.35.