British Pound the Weakest of the Majors Despite Better Than Expected Data, BOE Minute

The British pound fell sharply on Wednesday even though the UK’s Office for National Statistics reported that the number of claims for jobless benefits rose less than expected by 39,300 to 1.54 million in May, pushing the claimant count rate up to 4.8 percent from a downwardly revised 4.6 percent. This was the smallest increase in claims since July 2008, indicating that the pace of job losses is starting to slow. Meanwhile, the minutes from the Bank of England’s last policy meeting showed that all nine members of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) voted in favor of continuing their quantitative easing program. The MPC sounded cautiously optimistic, saying that risks for a “continued sharp contraction in output in the near term had receded somewhat,” but that “there was no reason to conclude that the medium-term outlook for the economy, and thus inflation, had changed materially.” However, BOE Governor Mervyn King took a slightly more pessimistic tone during a speech today, as he said that additional equity capital may be needed “before the banking system will be able to supply credit at a price and on a scale to finance a sustained recovery,” and “it is too soon to reverse the extraordinary policy stimulus that has been injected into the UK economy through monetary policy.”