The British pound crumbled Friday after London requested another extension in the long-running Brexit saga, while global stocks had a humdrum day only mildly enlivened by China-US trade talk hopes and strong US jobs data.
British Prime Minister Theresa May has asked the European Union to delay Britain's departure until June 30, while the bloc itself suggested that it might be best to postpone the split for up to a year.
As so often before, sheer uncertainty over Britain's future weighed on sterling, but the currency's downside was limited by expectations that the exit from the EU will be softened by some kind of agreement with the bloc.
"As far as most currency traders are concerned the chances of a no-deal remain remote -- but at the same time a satisfactory outcome anytime soon also seems highly unlikely," said XTB analyst David Cheetham. May also told EU Council president Donald Tusk in a formal letter that Britain would start preparing for its participation in European Parliament elections in case it is still a member of the bloc when they begin on May 23.
The embattled premier is racing against the clock in a desperate bid to get her deal approved in time for an EU leaders' summit in Brussels on Wednesday, when a formal decision on any extension will be made.
She is also holding a third day of talks with opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn to find a way to avert a messy no-deal divorce.
The Brexit current deadline is April 12, which has already been pushed back once from March 29.
"The idea of a longer delay was something of a relief to sterling, given that currently the UK is set to leave the EU next Friday," noted Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell.
In stock market deals London gained solidly as the pound slid, while Paris and Frankfurt had only small gains to show for the day's trading.
On Wall Street, the Dow Jones index rose modestly after the government reported jobs numbers for March well above expectations, a sign of a robust economy that was greeted with much relief after weak numbers a month earlier.