31 October 2001, 15:31  British Pound Little Changed; U.K. Economy Seen Outpacing U.S.

London, Oct. 31 (Bloomberg) -- The British pound, which has gained more than 2 percent against the dollar in the past seven days, was little changed before a report that may give more evidence the U.K. economy will outpace that of the U.S. U.S. gross domestic product probably had its biggest fall in more than 10 years in the third quarter, economists expect a report due at 1.30 p.m. London time to show. By contrast, a report last week showed the U.K. economy expanded more than expected in the three months to September. ``The U.K. is expected to have stronger growth than other major regions, and that is attractive,'' said Rod Davidson, who helps oversee about $1 billion as head of fixed-income securities at Murray Johnstone Asset Management in Glasgow. The U.S. economy will contract in the third and fourth quarters, boosting the pound to $1.48 in the next three months, he said. The pound was trading at $1.4557, compared with $1.4549 late yesterday. The pound's gains in the past week have pared its drop against the dollar to 1.4 percent for the month. Sterling was at 62.19 pence per euro, from 62.29. The biggest economy probably shrank 1 percent in the three months ended in September from a year earlier, according to a Bloomberg News survey. That would be the biggest drop since a 2 percent slide in the first quarter of 1991. If it were to contract again in the fourth quarter, that would meet the common definition of a recession. Other U.S. reports this week are expected to show slowing manufacturing and rising unemployment in October. Figures yesterday showed consumer confidence plummeted in October. ``We're running out of reasons to buy the dollar,'' said Adrian Schmidt, senior currency strategist at RBS Financial Markets. ``People are expecting a recovery in the U.S. next year, but the current lack of good news makes these expectations hard to maintain.'' Sterling may reach $1.48 by the end of the year, he said.

`Coming to an End'
The National Institute for Economic and Social Research said the U.K. economy will probably expand faster this year and next than any other in the Group of Seven industrialized countries. That may boost the pound as sterling-denominated assets become more appealing than those in the U.S. and 12 nations that share the single currency, analysts said. ``October's dollar rally is coming to an end,'' said Jesper Dannesboe, chief foreign-exchange strategist at Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein. The dollar ``will depreciate against the pound.'' In a sign the U.K. economy may be feeling some effects of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, British consumer confidence in October fell to its lowest level in a year, a survey by research company Martin Hamblin GfK showed.

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