Sterling fell to a more than two-year low against a trade-weighted basket of currencies today, hurt by a survey that showed growth in the manufacturing sector missing expectations amid persistent concerns over a possible British exit from the European Union.
An online poll by market research agency TNS showed the rival campaigns for Britain to stay in or leave the European Union running neck-and-neck.
The 'in' and 'out' camps both had support from 35% of respondents in the poll, with 30% still undecided.
The Markit/CIPS manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) rose to 51.0 last month, short of economists' forecasts of 51.2.
The survey showed new export orders contracting while the manufacturing sector stagnated.
Sterling fell 1.1% to $1.4195, with losses accelerating after a better-than-expected US jobs report that pushed the dollar higher.
The euro was up 1.12% against the pound at 80.01p at 4.56pm Irish time, its highest since November 2014.
That put trade-weighted sterling at 84.3, its lowest since December 2013.
The index endured its worst quarter since late 2008 between January and March.
"General risk aversion, which is bad for sterling, worries about Brexit and the UK data are all prompting investors to sell the pound before the weekend," said a spot trader.
The PMI survey is likely to sour sentiment towards sterling, already rattled by the prospect of Britons voting to leave the EU in a 23 June referendum, which banks reckon would deal a substantial blow to the economy and currency.
"We expect risk for the pound to be tilted to the downside," said Daniel Trum, strategist at UBS Wealth Management.
"We still expect the UK to stay in the EU and see a 30% risk of a Brexit. But we acknowledge that sterling will temporarily suffer from investors partly preparing for a different outcome."
He recommended investors to sell sterling at $1.44 with a target of $1.38 and stop-loss at $1.48.
Global investors worry that leaving the EU would threaten the huge foreign investment flows Britain needs to fund its current account deficit, one of the biggest in the developing world.
Hans Redeker, global head of currency strategy at Morgan Stanley, said the widening deficit was driven by reduced earnings from abroad by UK companies, in particular commodity-related companies.
He said outflows from UK real estate funds highlighted Brexit risks and sovereign wealth funds could pull out more money this year, adding to sterling weakness.