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Pound falls on prospect of Covid Plan B

By Jenni Reid

13:56, 8 December 2021

View of Parliament from Westminster Bridge in London
New Covid rules could be introduced in England this week, including a work from home mandate – Photo: Terry Richer/Alamy Stock Photo

The pound was down against its main rivals on Wednesday afternoon as media reports suggested England could introduce stricter Covid rules this week. 

Sterling fell 0.58% to €1.1682 against the euro, 0.33% to $1.3201 against the dollar and 0.11% to ¥150.1930 against the Japanese yen at 13:20 UTC on Wednesday. 

The package of measures, dubbed Plan B, is likely to include a request for everyone who can to work from home; a legal mandate to wear face coverings in certain settings; and the introduction of a so-called vaccine passport system, showing vaccination, testing or recovery status to enter certain venues. Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland already have Covid pass systems and stricter mask requirements in place.

A decision by government ministers on the new rules has not yet been made, and no clarification was given during a Prime Minister’s Questions session in parliament that was dominated by a row over whether a Christmas party was held in Downing Street last year. 

WFH return?

On working from home, the government has previously said it “recognises this causes more disruption and has greater immediate costs to the economy and some businesses than the other Plan B interventions, so a final decision would be made based on the data at the time”.

A source told The Guardian’s chief political correspondent, Jessica Elgot, that new Covid rules are “imminent” and would include advice on home working. 


0.66 Price
+0.040% 1D Chg, %
Long position overnight fee -0.0071%
Short position overnight fee -0.0011%
Overnight fee time 22:00 (UTC)
Spread 0.00006


148.65 Price
-0.080% 1D Chg, %
Long position overnight fee 0.0111%
Short position overnight fee -0.0194%
Overnight fee time 22:00 (UTC)
Spread 0.010


1.26 Price
-0.120% 1D Chg, %
Long position overnight fee -0.0047%
Short position overnight fee -0.0035%
Overnight fee time 22:00 (UTC)
Spread 0.00013


0.66 Price
+0.050% 1D Chg, %
Long position overnight fee -0.0071%
Short position overnight fee -0.0011%
Overnight fee time 22:00 (UTC)
Spread 0.00006

Think tank the Institute for Economic Affairs today said it believed Plan B could cost the UK economy £4bn ($5.3bn) a month.  

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Market reaction 

The FTSE 100 was trading flat, while British Airways owner International Consolidated Airlines Group (IAG) was the biggest faller on the index, with its stock down 3.10% to 137.66p.

Low-cost airlines Easyjet (EZJ) and Wizz Air (WIZZ) were down by similar amounts as the situation yet again looked bleak – or at least unpredictable – for a rebound in international travel. 

Despite no suggestion that hospitality venues would be forced to close again, shares in pub chain Wetherspoon (JDW) were down 2.5%, Mitchells & Butlers (MAB) fell 1.77%, while the Restaurant Group (RTN) was down 5.80%.

Read more: UK economy expected to return to pre-pandemic levels by 2022

Markets in this article

4.26 USD
0.16 +3.970%
1.5180 USD
-0.0075 -0.500%
7.06 USD
-0.07 -0.990%
Mitchells & Butlers
2.394 USD
-0.032 -1.340%
Mitchells & Butlers
2.394 USD
-0.032 -1.340%

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The difference between trading assets and CFDs
The main difference between CFD trading and trading assets, such as commodities and stocks, is that you don’t own the underlying asset when you trade on a CFD.
You can still benefit if the market moves in your favour, or make a loss if it moves against you. However, with traditional trading you enter a contract to exchange the legal ownership of the individual shares or the commodities for money, and you own this until you sell it again.
CFDs are leveraged products, which means that you only need to deposit a percentage of the full value of the CFD trade in order to open a position. But with traditional trading, you buy the assets for the full amount. In the UK, there is no stamp duty on CFD trading, but there is when you buy stocks, for example.
CFDs attract overnight costs to hold the trades (unless you use 1-1 leverage), which makes them more suited to short-term trading opportunities. Stocks and commodities are more normally bought and held for longer. You might also pay a broker commission or fees when buying and selling assets direct and you’d need somewhere to store them safely.
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