Sterling steadies slightly after Osborne statement

File photograph shows an employee walking over a mosaic depicting pound sterling symbols on the floor of the front hall of the Bank of England in London

By Patrick Graham

LONDON (Reuters) – Sterling recovered around half a cent from overnight lows as trading got going in London on Monday, but was still 2 percent down from levels hit at the end of its worst day in modern history on Friday.

Chancellor George Osborne’s promise to stay on for the moment and implement “robust” contingency plans with the Bank of England if need be steadied nerves somewhat and sterling inched up to trade around $1.3430 from lows of $1.3356 overnight. <GBP=D4>

Since the result of Thursday’s vote became clear, however, a raft of banks have forecast the pound to head below $1.30 and even against a weakened euro it was down another 1.2 percent at 82.20 pence. <EURGBP=>

“The clear risk must be for further downside,” said Neil Mellor, a currency strategist at Bank of New York Mellon in London.

“Uncertainty equals currency weakness, we know this, and there is no sense that this (sterling) is a value trade right now and that you have to get back in. It is too early for anyone to start calling a bottom.”

Analysts from Canada’s RBC Capital Markets pointed to the history of past sell-offs as pointing the way towards $1.20-1.25 for the pound by the end of the third quarter of this year.

“The 7 percent fall (against the euro and dollar) is, so far, very small in the context of historical collapses,” they said in a weekend note.

“During eight independent price slumps over the last 40 years, sterling has on average fallen 18 percent.”

(Editing by Andrew Heavens)