The pound fell to its lowest in two weeks against both the dollar and the euro as investors sought safe haven currencies following a crash in oil prices.
U.S. oil futures turned negative for the first time ever on Monday, causing the dollar to rise to near two-week highs against a basket of assets as investors shunned riskier assets.
The change in global risk appetite drove the pound more than better-than-expected unemployment data for March, which showed that unemployment benefit claims increased by 12,100 in March, far below the median forecast of 172,500 in a poll of economists.
The data was based on the situation on March 12, 11 days before the government declared the lockdown that has paralysed much of Britain’s economy, limiting its impact on the economic outlook.
As measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus, such as shutting down businesses, take their toll on the economy, Britain is facing what is expected to be its worst recession in 300 years.
In addition to the economic fallout from the lockdown, the pound is also being held down by Brexit, negotiations for which are due to take place via teleconferencing over the next three months.