Sterling fell below $1.22 in early trading to its lowest level in more than five weeks as the combination of a stronger dollar and weak UK economic data hurt the British currency.
The dollar rose against a basket of comparable currencies on Wednesday after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell squashed growing speculation about negative interest rates in the United States. It held below a three-week high.
Versus the euro, the pound hit a six-week low on Wednesday and held close to these levels on Thursday morning, last at 88.58 pence per euro.
Britain is in talks with Swiss drug maker Roche Holding AG on rolling out an accurate COVID-19 antibody test that it said could be a ‘game changer’ on getting the world’s fifth largest economy back to work.
The novel coronavirus, which emerged in China, has propelled the world towards the sharpest recession in centuries with many people isolating at home as governments grapple with one of the biggest health crises since the 1918 influenza epidemic.
The British government said it was talking with Roche on rolling out its test after a Public Health England laboratory at Porton Down, in Wiltshire, concluded it had 100% specificity. That means it can detect antibodies to the exact disease rather than similar ones.