Belfast Telegraph

Sterling has soared to a seven-year high over the euro

By Lesley Houston

The pound has scaled to heights over the euro not seen for more than seven years.

Sterling rose 1% to hit €1.40 for the first time since December 2007.

The hike came just a day after the European Central Bank launched its government bond-buying programme.

The trend has prompted some experts to predict that by the summer the euro could fall to its lowest level since 2002. Northern Ireland is particularly affected by the strengthening pound because of our land border with the Republic - and it spells both good and bad news.​

Though it means UK holidaymakers heading to Europe this summer will wield 15% more spending power, it could spell trouble for some Northern Ireland businesses.

It is feared they may suffer as buyers seek cheaper eurozone markets.

City analysts in London said continued fears over a Greek exit from the eurozone had helped push the pound higher against the single currency.

Last year, the pound was trading at €1.205, meaning holidaymakers could expect €1.18 for every pound they exchanged.

It means whereas UK holidaymakers to Europe or the Republic would have received €707 for every £600 they exchanged a year ago, they would get €822 today.

The rise in sterling came after the head of the eurozone finance ministers' group called on Greece to "stop wasting time" and engage in serious talks on reform.

Jeremy Cook, chief economist and head of currency strategy at foreign exchange trader World First, said alongside concerns over Greece, the ECB's bond-buying programme and negative bank deposit interest rates were "hammering" the single currency.

Belfast Telegraph