Pound crash: Philip Hammond urges calm over sterling drop - but warns of worse to come

Chancellor says 'we can expect to see markets being more turbulent over this period and we should prepare for that'

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Chancellor Philip Hammond has warned the so-called “flash crash” in sterling may be repeated, as the currency markets wrestle with Brexit – but he insisted the economy was strong.

The pound fell 6 per cent to $1.1841, the biggest move since the Brexit vote, with traders partly blaming concerns over the Government’s plans for how to achieve EU withdrawal.

Analysts believe a news report could have triggered automated trading systems to sell the pound heavily in a short space of time.

It later recovered some of those losses but remained volatile, with the aftershocks also briefly pushing sterling below €1.10 for the first time since early 2010.

Asked about the crash, Mr Hammond told the BBC: “Some of what happened overnight was driven by technical factors, as the Bank of England Governor has explained this morning.

“Markets will go up and down – markets respond to noises.

“We are going to go through a period of volatility, there will be lots of commentary going on and we can expect to see markets being more turbulent over this period and we should prepare for that.

“The important thing is to look through the movements of currency markets and short term movements of sentiment – we go into this period of turbulence fundamentally strong.”

The pound is heading for one of its worst weeks against the dollar since the financial crisis, with a loss of around 4 per cent for the week.

The Bank of England has already confirmed that it will investigate the cause of a sharp fall in the value of the pound, in mysterious circumstances in overnight trading in Asia.

One theory is that the trigger was a Financial Times which said French President François Hollande had warned Britain must suffer the consequences of leaving the EU and the EU must demand a tough stance when it negotiates an exit.

Su-Lin Ong, a senior economist at RBC Capital Markets, said: “The move coincided with an FT story about Mr Hollande demanding tough Brexit negotiations. The move was exacerbated once stops were tripped below a key level of $1.2600 in very thin trading before the US payrolls.”

The pound has been very sensitive to politics lately as fears over the consequences of a hard Brexit haunt investor attraction towards the currency.