British factory output recorded its biggest annual fall

Sterling slipped against the euro and dollar this morning, with investors worried that the latest polls still show Britons who want to leave the European Union at a referendum in June neck-and-neck with those who want to stay.

The pound had fallen some 7 percent between mid-November and mid-April, when it made a substantial recovery after U.S. President Barack Obama stepped in on the side of the “In” campaign, saying Britain would be at the “back of the queue” for any transatlantic trade deal.

But with surveys conducted since Obama’s intervention still pointing towards a very closely fought referendum on June 23, and with only six weeks until the ballot, investors have started to become more worried about the risks.

A poll from market research company ICM on Monday showed 46 percent of those likely to vote wanted to leave, compared with 44 percent who wished to stay and 11 percent who were undecided.

British factory output recorded its biggest annual fall in nearly three years in March, as shutdowns in the steel industry due to global overcapacity led broad-based declines, official figures showed this morning.

Manufacturing in March was 1.9 percent lower than a year earlier, the steepest decline since May 2013, the Office for National Statistics said and in line with economists’ predictions in a poll.

The BoE’s monetary policy committee starts a two-day meeting on Wednesday, and will on Thursday release updated growth and inflation forecasts in a quarterly report.

The BoE is expected to keep interest rates on hold when its monthly policy decision is announced on Thursday. The Bank has previously said that it will try to look beyond volatility in economic data caused by the approach of the referendum.

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