Pound Rises on Progress With Brexit Talks; Australian Dollar Near Flat
The British Pound extended gains on Tuesday in Asia after news that U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May obtained legally binding Brexit assurances from the European Union (EU).
May’s deputy David Lidington said on Monday that the Prime Minister has secured “legally binding changes” that “strengthen and improve” the nation’s divorce deal from the EU. Further negotiations are ongoing in France, he added.
“Now is the time to come together, to back this improved Brexit deal, and to deliver on the instruction of the British people,” May said.
The news raised hopes that May could still secure a divorce deal before Britain’s scheduled March 29 departure date from the EU.
The GBP/USD pair gained 0.5% to 1.3213 by 12:01 AM ET (04:01 GMT).
Meanwhile, the AUD/USD pair was trading near flat at 0.7070 after both the National Bank of Australia (NAB)’s business conditions and business confidence index for February missed estimates.
Confidence remains below average, while forward orders are negative and capacity utilization is trending lower, said Alan Oster, NAB Group Chief Economist.
The Japanese Yen, widely considered a safe-haven currency, fell against the dollar amid risk-on action in the U.S. and Asian equities. Japan’s Nikkei 225 gained more than 2% on Tuesday, while China’s stock markets also rose by about 1.6%.
The U.S. dollar index that tracks the greenback against a basket of other currencies was down 0.2% to 96.993. Traders will be closely monitoring the country’s February inflation figures due later in the day.
On Monday, the Commerce Department said retail sales rose 0.2% in January, compared with a downwardly revised 1.6% in December. That was above expectations for retail sales to remain flat.