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CURRENCIES: Pound Retakes $1.30 Level After Flash Crash; Dollar Meanders Lower

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05/19/2017 | 03:11pm CEST

By Barbara Kollmeyer and Sara Sjolin, MarketWatch , Ryan Vlastelica

Dollar on track for sharp weekly decline; Brazil real spikes, but remains down for the week

The British pound and the euro moved higher against the dollar on Friday, as greenback extended its recent weakness amid turbulence in the White House.

The pound jumped 0.6% to $1.3013, reclaiming the $1.30 level it lost late Thursday during a mini "flash crash." Sterling fell to as low as $1.2888 in the crash, after pushing through the key $1.30 handle for the first in eight months earlier in the day, thanks to a strong U.K. retail sales report

"Given the timing of the plunge, it would seem the liquidity of the market as opposed to any particular catalyst was largely responsible for the mini 'flash crash,'" said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at Oanda, in a note to clients.

The pound surged in recent trading, up more than 5% thus far in 2017, including a gain of 1% this week. Konstantinos Anthis, who works on the research team at ADS Securities, suggested the late Thursday drop could have been traders taking some of that cash off the table, particularly given some concerns over the U.K. Conservative party's manifesto ahead of the election next month.

The manifesto repeated (https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-k-conservative-party-sets-in-stone-plan-to-leave-eu-customs-union-1495112225?mg=id-wsj) (https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-k-conservative-party-sets-in-stone-plan-to-leave-eu-customs-union-1495112225?mod=mktw)U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May's stance that Britain will walk away from Brexit talks, if it can't reach a deal to its satisfaction.

Oanda's Erlam is among those who believe the pound will go from strength to strength in the months ahead , if U.K. data continue to perform well. He believes the pound could hit $1.35 if the next few months are calm enough.

The euro , meanwhile, was higher against the dollar on Friday, rising 0.7% to $1.1148 from $1.1104. The euro gained 2.3% against the dollar this week, supported largely by turmoil surrounding President Donald Trump's administration .

The dollar was down slightly against the yen, adding to recent losses against the Japan currency, which is widely viewed as a haven currency. The dollar was buying Yen111.30 on Friday, down from Yen111.49 late Thursday in New York, a move of 0.2%. For the week, the yen has advanced 1.8%.

The ICE Dollar Index , which measures the currency against a basket of six major rivals, was trading down 0.6% to 97.33, on track for a weekly drop of nearly 2%, wiping out all of the currency's postelection pop after Trump won the U.S. presidency in November.

Washington could continue to set the tone for trading, and any developments on the controversy over Trump and Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election could be a cause for additional selling. Trump begins a multicountry foreign trip, which includes Saudi Arabia, Israel, Belgium and Italy.

Outside of the advance services report for the first quarter, Friday's data calendar is quiet. St. Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard will give a speech on the economy and monetary policy at the Association for Corporate Growth at Washington University in St. Louis at 9:15 a.m. Eastern.

Opinion:Ask Arora: How investors can avoid losing their shirt in the age of Trump

In other currency pairs, the Brazil real soared against the U.S. dollar on Friday gaining 1.6% to 3.32 to the dollar, after plunging Thursday as the country's opposition called for the resignation of President Michel Temer over a bribery allegation. For the week, the real has lost 6.2%.

The news hit Brazil-linked investments hard on Thursday, including exchange-traded funds linked to the country and the Brazil Bovespa stock benchmark .

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