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Pound Eases Off

The dollar weakened against other major currencies this morning, as markets took Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell’s comment that U.S. interest rates were just below neutral as a signal that a three-year rate-hiking cycle is nearing an end.

Powell took markets by surprise on Wednesday when he noted that the policy rate, at 2 to 2.25 percent, is now “just below” the broad range of estimates of neutral, which in September was 2.5 to 3.5 percent.

Sterling gave up most of its earlier gains and traded broadly flat on the day after the Bank of England warned that Britain risks a bigger hit to its economy than the financial crisis if it leaves the European Union in a “disorderly” manner.

The economy could contract by as much as 8 percent in a year and the pound could lose a quarter of its value, the Bank of England said.

Barely four months before Britain is due to leave the EU, Prime Minister Theresa May is struggling to garner support from parliament for the agreement she sealed with EU leaders on Sunday.

That forecasts that in a scenario resembling May’s plan, Britain’s economy would be 2.1 percent smaller in 15 years than it would be if the country remained in the EU. With no deal, it would be 7.7 percent smaller in 15 years.

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