British Pound Rebounds on Report of Extended BoE Bond Buying

The British pound rebounded in Asian trade on Wednesday after a report said that the Bank of England signaled to bankers it may extend its bond-buying program beyond a Friday deadline if market conditions required it.

The pound rose 0.3% to 1.0991, reversing overnight losses and briefly trading above 1.1.

The Financial Times reported that the central bank signaled privately to bankers that it could push its emergency bond-buying program past a Friday deadline, citing sources close to the matter.

The report contrasts an October 14 deadline set by Governor Andrew Bailey, who warned pension funds on Tuesday that they have three days left to fix their issues.

Bailey’s warning had sent the pound plummeting to a near two-week low on Tuesday, as markets feared that a withdrawal of debt support could further stress fund managers reeling from a major sell-off in gilts.

10-year UK bond yields were up 0.8% at 4.4750 as of Tuesday’s close.

The FT said that BoE officials are watching whether the investment managers that help pension funds manage risks in their portfolios have built up enough cash reserves to allow their clients to meet margin calls. The bank will extend support if it sees that fund managers are unable to meet this requirement.

UK’s brewing debt crisis was sparked by concerns over new tax cuts unveiled by recently-appointed Finance Minister Kwasi Kwarteng. Investors doubted that the government had enough fiscal headroom to fund said tax cuts, given that it is already struggling with elevated inflation and stretched spending due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

News of the proposed tax cuts pushed the pound to a record low last month and caused widespread selling in gilts, putting yields at record highs. This forced the BoE to intervene in markets with a 65 billion pound program to help support bond prices. The move also contrasted recent monetary tightening efforts by the bank to control rampant inflation.

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