Sterling stuck near 10-month low after bruising week

LONDON (Reuters) - The British pound steadied around the $1.30 mark on Friday as traders took stock at the end of a bruising week in which weak economic data and more political uncertainty around the government’s Brexit position hammered sterling.

The currency dropped to as low as $1.2958 on Thursday, its weakest since early September, after worse-than-forecast retail sales data and slower-than-expected inflation rises combined with a dollar rally.

Sterling had started the week close to $1.33, meaning the currency is headed for its worst weekly performance since early May.

The European Union on Thursday warned business to get ready for Britain crashing out of the bloc without agreed terms to cushion the economic disruption.

That warning comes amid ongoing concerns about Prime Minister Theresa May’s ability to get Brussels - and her own party - to agree to her vision of life after the European Union.

With no major economic news on Friday and the British parliament headed for the summer recess next week, traders are looking to the Bank of England meeting in early August.

Despite the relatively weak run of economic news, the market is still pricing in a two-thirds chance of a 25 basis point rate rise in August, although that is down from nearly four-fifths at the start of the week.

“As the dust settles on an exceptionally busy week for both economics and politics, markets are still largely but not fully priced for an August rate hike,” said Adam Cole, chief currency strategist at RBC.

“Our default position remains that rates will rise in August, despite the slightly softer CPI [inflation] data earlier in the week.”

Sterling traded flat at $1.3018 on Friday.

Against the euro the pound was also unchanged on the day at 89.505 pence - earlier on Friday it fell to 89.570, its weakest versus the single currency since early March.

“Another new 10 month low at $1.2956 (on Thursday) opens up the prospect of further losses towards $1.2880, which needs to hold or we could well head back to the $1.2500 area,” said Michael Hewson, analyst at CMC Markets.

Reporting by Tommy Wilkes; Editing by Keith Weir