June 18, 2018 / 9:19 AM / a month ago

Sterling falls as traders cut positions before Brexit votes and BoE meeting

* Graphic: World FX rates in 2018 tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh

* Graphic: Trade-weighted sterling since Brexit vote tmsnrt.rs/2hwV9Hv

LONDON, June 18 (Reuters) - The pound fell on Monday as the dollar strengthened, with traders reluctant to buy sterling ahead of a Bank of England policy meeting this week and another expected parliamentary confrontation over the government’s Brexit plan.

With an escalating trade dispute between the United States and China keeping broader currency markets cautious, and little in the way of major British economic data scheduled for the next few days, analysts said the pound was expected to remain in a narrow range before Thursday’s central bank meeting.

Efforts by Prime Minister Theresa May to convince her party to back her Brexit plans will continue to weigh on the pound, however. Her plans face rejection by parliament’s upper chamber on Monday, setting the stage for a high-stakes and potentially destabilising confrontation with rebel lawmakers later in the week.

“The key event of the week for the pound is the BoE meeting this Thursday. We expect the pound price action to be rather muted both going into the meeting and after it, given the likely fairly vague policy signal in the post-meeting statement,” ING analysts said.

Sterling fell 0.3 percent to $1.3234 versus the dollar, not far from the seven-month low of $1.3205 hit late last month.

There was little support from positioning data, with net long positions in the British currency holding near 2018 lows.

The currency has been stuck in a downtrend since April, hit by receding expectations that the Bank of England will follow the U.S. Federal Reserve by tightening monetary policy and by concerns about a British economic slowdown at a time when the country’s relationship with the European Union is still unclear.

The pound also fell against the euro, dipping by 0.2 percent to 87.56 pence.

ACLS analyst Marshall Gittler said that the market had priced the likelihood of an August Bank of England interest rate hike at 50 percent but slowing earnings means there is little urgency to increase rates. (Reporting by Tommy Wilkes Editing by David Goodman)

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