Sterling held above $1.31 today after recovering overnight when European Union leaders gave Prime Minister Theresa May a two-week reprieve – until April 12 – to decide how to leave the European Union.
Sterling had plunged towards $1.30 yesterday in its biggest one-day fall of 2019 as fears mounted that Britain would crash out of the EU on March 29.
The EU has said Britain can have a short delay to Brexit, as requested by May, but she must first win parliamentary approval for her withdrawal deal that sets out the future relationship between London and its biggest trading partner.
May, however, has already lost two attempts to secure parliamentary support, and with the odds stacked against her for another vote next week the risk of a no-deal Brexit rose sharply.
The EU's leaders have described the two-week extension as a "last chance" for Britain to secure an orderly Brexit.
The pound was up 0.1% at $1.3117 today, while its gains against the euro were as high as 0.7% to 86.14 pence – largely on the back of weakness in the single currency following disappointing data out of Germany.
Despite the rise, currency derivative markets signaled a growing caution the outlook for the British currency with one-month risk reversals on the pound versus the euro and the dollar plunging to multi-month highs.
Risk reversals, a gauge of puts to calls, and an indicator of how bearish or bullish are on the outlook of the currency, indicate that short term negative bets on the pound are piling up rapidly despite the broader calm in the spot markets.
Referring to yesterday's sudden drop in the pound, analysts said that the market's complacency has been tested and that no-deal fears remained elevated.