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Pound Drops As BoE Holds Rate Steady; Lowers Q2 Growth View

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The pound declined against its key counterparts during the European session on Thursday, after the Bank of England maintained its interest rate and asset purchase program, but cut growth forecast for the second quarter citing risks stemming from the possibility of a no-deal Brexit and global trade tensions.

The nine-member Monetary Policy Committee, led by Governor Mark Carney, unanimously decided to hold the bank rate at 0.75 percent, the BoE said in a statement.

The stock of corporate bond purchases was kept at GBP 10 billion and that of government bond purchases at GBP 435 billion.

The bank downgraded its growth outlook for the second quarter to zero from 0.2 percent as the factors that underpinned first quarter growth faded.

Underlying growth appeared to have weakened slightly in the first half of the year relative to 2018 to a rate a little below its potential, the bank noted.

The central bank said the monetary policy response to Brexit will not be automatic and could be in either direction. The MPC said it will always act to achieve the inflation target.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics showed that UK retail sales declined for the second straight month in May.

Retail sales including auto fuel fell 0.5 percent month-on-month in May, as expected, following a 0.1 percent drop. This was the second consecutive decrease in sales volume.

Excluding auto fuel, sales decreased 0.3 percent on month, the same pace of decline seen in April. Sales were forecast to drop 0.4 percent.

During the Asian session, the currency showed mixed performance, by rising against the greenback and the euro but holding steady against the yen and the franc.

The pound pulled back to 1.2688 against the greenback, down by 0.3 percent from an 8-day high of 1.2727 recorded at 6:45 am ET. The pair closed Wednesday's deals at 1.2641. Should the pound fall further, it is likely to face support around the 1.24 level.

The U.K. currency, having advanced to a 6-day high of 137.18 against the yen at 6:45 am ET, reversed direction and eased off 0.3 percent to 136.75 after the BoE decision. The pair was valued at 136.65 when it ended trading on Wednesday. Further downward trading may see the pound challenging support around the 133.00 area.

The Bank of Japan maintained its monetary policy and kept its forward guidance unchanged.

The Policy Board of the BoJ voted 7-2 to maintain interest rate at -0.1 percent on current accounts that financial institutions maintain at the bank.

The pound fell 0.5 percent to a 2-day low of 1.2509 against the franc, after climbing as high as 1.2577 at 3:30 am ET. The pound had finished Wednesday's trading at 1.2566 against the Swiss franc. The pound is likely to face support around the 1.23 region, if it drops again.

The pound was lower by 0.4 percent at 0.8910 against the euro, following near a 2-week high of 0.8873 set at 2:00 am ET. The euro-pound pair was worth 0.8880 at Wednesday's close. Next immediate support for the pound is probably seen around the 0.92 level.

Looking ahead, the U.S. weekly jobless claims for the week ended June 15 and leading index for May will be out in the New York session.

At 10:00 am ET, Eurozone flash consumer sentiment index for June is set for release.

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