Sterling climbs to highest since Brexit vote, falls back


"A lot of the detail in the report suggests the labour market is still tightening", Philip Shaw, an economist with Investec, said.

During early trade the pound was up about 0.3% against the dollar to trade at $1.4377 - just above its postreferendum high set in January.

The UK unemployment rate fell by 10 basis points to a fresh 42 year low of 4.2% when markets had anticipated that it would hold steady at 4.3%.

The Office for National Statistics said Tuesday that average weekly earnings in the three months to February were up 2.8 percent from the year before. The figures mean that United Kingdom workers are now getting a small real wage rise on average. "As such, we continue to think that the MPC will hike rates three times this year, more than markets expect - with the next hike coming in May", Gregory predicts. This too is significant because the lower that unemployment falls, the tighter the labour market becomes, which bodes well for wage growth further down the line.

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The pound rose against the dollar to a 22-month high, boosted by seasonal inflows from foreign companies sending dividend payments to British shareholders and diminishing concern about a disorderly exit from the European Union next year.

Sterling's value has increased by more than 6% since the start of the year, and it is now "the darling of the currency world".

Sterling on Tuesday rose to its highest level since Britain voted to leave the European Union in June 2016, until weaker- than-expected wage data pulled the currency back from those highs.

Dollar weakness after uncertainty about U.S. trade policy has also been a contributory factor, traders said.

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Against the euro, sterling fell 0.1 percent to 86.44 pence per euro, still close to 11-month highs. Meanwhile, the British currency actually posted a minor loss against the Euro past year.

Earnings grew an average of 2.8%, outstripping inflation for the first time in over a year. That's higher than the rate of inflation, which was 2.7% at the most recent reading.

Britain's currency has been supported in recent months by expectations of a Bank of England interest rate hike and growing hopes about a Brexit deal.

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