By Ian McConnell

STERLING posted sharp losses yesterday against the euro and dollar, as safe-haven considerations remained in focus amid the intensifying coronavirus crisis.

The pound, which last week hit its lowest levels against the dollar since 1985, was at 5pm in London trading around $1.1479, down by nearly 2.5 cents on its pre-weekend close. Sterling had dropped as far as $1.1413 late last week.

The euro was, at 5pm in London, trading around 93.67p, up by 2.64p on its pre-weekend close against the pound.

Sterling’s renewed falls came on a day on which the FTSE-100 index of leading shares dropped by a further 196.89 points to 4993.89 points. The index fell as far as 4922.76 points during the session, as further huge moves by the US Federal Reserves failed to stop the rout.

The dollar has benefited in recent weeks from its safe-haven status, amid the growing Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic.

And financial-market players have highlighted the perception of the euro as having superior safe-haven credentials relative to sterling.

The UK Government has unveiled huge measures aimed at supporting businesses and individuals as it tries to tackle the effects of the coronavirus outbreak. These have included sweeping measures aimed at supporting the incomes of employees hit by the coronavirus.

David Madden, analyst at CMC Markets, said yesterday: “Sterling is weaker against most currencies today. At the back end of last week, Rishi Sunak – the Chancellor of the Exchequer – stepped up the fiscal package to tackle the health crisis. The Government will compensate workers impacted by the coronavirus to the tune of 80 per cent of their salary, up to £2,500 per month, for three months initially. The salary move alone could cost the UK Government approximately £40 billion.”

The Bank of England last week cut UK base rates to a record low of 0.1 per cent. This followed a half-point cut to 0.25% the previous week.