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British pound choppy as Bank of England reiterates Friday bond-buying deadline

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In this photo illustration, the British pound is seen displayed.
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The British poundBank of England is privately signaling a willingness to extend its emergency bond-buying program.

The report, which cited anonymous sources, came on the heels of comments by BOE Governor Andrew Bailey who said the central bank would end the rescue program on Friday as planned.

Speaking at an event organized by the Institute of International Finance in Washington, D.C., late Tuesday, Bailey said that “part of the essence, I think, of a financial stability intervention is that it is clearly temporary.”

The Bank of England did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment on the FT’s report outside of office hours.

The pound

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The U.K. government announced a radical economic plan, a so-called mini-budget which included unfunded tax cuts, on Sept. 23. The move sent financial markets into a tailspin, as investors sold off the pound and ditched U.K. bonds.

In a bid to stem the sell-off, the BOE in late September said it would delay its plan to sell U.K. government bonds and buy long-dated bonds for two weeks as part of emergency measures to calm the market.

Several pension funds were hours away from a collapse when the BOE stepped in, Deputy Governor Jon Cunliffe wrote in a letter to a lawmaker last week.

Since then, the central bank has expanded its rescue package twice, and the authorities made a policy U-turn — scrapping a plan to cut taxes for the highest earners.

Calls for extension

The Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association called for an extension to the BOE’s intervention, which is due to end on Oct. 14.

“A key concern of pension funds since the Bank of England’s intervention has been that the period of purchasing should not be ended too soon, for example, many feel it should be extended to the next fiscal event on 31 October and possibly beyond,” the PLSA said in a statement Tuesday.

If bond purchasing is stopped, “additional measures should be put in place to manage market volatility,” it added.

But Bailey said late Tuesday that the BOE does not intend to continue buying bonds to stabilize the market.

“We have announced that we will be out by the end of this week. We think the rebalancing must be done,” he said.

“And my message to the funds involved and all the firms involved managing those funds: You’ve got three days left now. You’ve got to get this done.”

— CNBC’s Elliot Smith and Jenni Reid contributed to this report.

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