Pound sterling slumps against dollar and euro after slew of bad news
The currency experienced similar declines against the euro, down nearly 0.5 per cent at 1.12.
It gave a slight boost to the FTSE 100, which was up 0.2 per cent or 15.74 points at around 7,483.38, as many of its listed multinational stocks tend to benefit when foreign currencies are stronger.
Connor Campbell, a financial analyst at SpreadEx, said: “After a brief respite on Wednesday, thanks to that better-than-forecast UK services PMI, sterling has resumed its October slide this Thursday.
“While there was nothing concrete driving the pound lower, there was plenty of news to chip away at the currency's confidence.”
The UK currency fell sharply in anticipation of poor car sales figures, which ended up showing a 9.3 per cent drop compared with the same month last year and marked the sixth consecutive month of declines.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) blamed it on a fall in consumer confidence caused by economic and political uncertainty, and confusion over air quality plans.
The disappointing data compounded suggestions by ratings agency S&P that the UK is not ready for a series of interest rate hikes by the Bank of England, starting next month.
In a research note, S&P said: “Overall, we believe the Bank and [Governor] Mark Carney's recent statements are primarily aimed at propping up sterling to reduce imported inflation pressures.
“This strategy may include an actual 25 basis point hike in November, thus bringing the policy rate back to where it was before the Brexit referendum.
“Additional moves in 2018 do not appear warranted on the back of a slowing economy.”
Mr Campbell also pointed to comments from Bank of England deputy governor Sam Woods, who argued that a transition deal would have to be agreed with the EU before Christmas to avoid a string of firms triggering Brexit contingency plans.
Mr Campbell said: “Add on top of all this Brexit - just, like, in general - and it's not hard to see why sterling is continuing to give back chunk after chunk of September's surge.”