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Bank of England probes 'flash crash' after pound plunges 6% against US dollar

PUBLISHED: 11:14 07 October 2016 | UPDATED: 11:14 07 October 2016

The Pound has plunged against the US dollar. Picture: James Bass

The Pound has plunged against the US dollar. Picture: James Bass

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2008

The Bank of England is "looking into" the "flash crash" which sent the pound plunging more than 6% against the US dollar overnight.

Pound and FTSE 100 since the EU referendum. See story CITY PoundPound and FTSE 100 since the EU referendum. See story CITY Pound

The value of sterling dived during the Asian trading session to 1.18 US dollars, hitting fresh 31-year lows before recovering to 1.238 US dollars.

The Bank said it is “looking into the cause of the sharp fall”.

Sterling was also sitting at a five-year low against the euro, down 1.5% at 1.113 euro.

Market-watchers pointed to comments by French President Francois Hollande, who insisted the European Union must take a tough stance in negotiating Brexit, and a “rogue algorithm”.

How the pound has fallen. See story CITY Pound.How the pound has fallen. See story CITY Pound.

Kathleen Brooks, research director at spreadbetter City Index, said: “Apparently it was a rogue algorithm that triggered the sell-off after it picked up comments made by the French President, Francois Hollande, who said if Theresa May and co want hard Brexit, they will get hard Brexit.

“These days some algos trade on the back of news sites, and even what is trending on social media sites such as Twitter, so a deluge of negative Brexit headlines could have led to an algo taking that as a major sell signal for GBP.

“Once the pound started moving lower, then more technical algos could have followed suit, compounding the short, sharp selling pressure.”

Traders have been increasingly alarmed since the Conservative Party conference began last weekend, with the Prime Minister giving her clearest indication yet that Britain is hurtling towards a so-called “hard Brexit”.

It would involve pulling Britain out of the European single market so the Government can tighten its grip on immigration.

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