British pound's 6 percent "flash crash" baffles traders

Markets Associated Press

  • FILE - In this Sept. 13, 2016 file photo, a member of staff at a branch of Halifax bank, in London, displays a new British 5 pound sterling note, made from polymer, which is being launched Tuesday.  The beleaguered British pound plummeted briefly to a fresh 31-year low Friday, Oct. 7, 2016,  amid intensifying concerns about Britain's exit from the European Union. The pound tumbled nearly 6 percent in early Asian trading, falling as low as $1.1789, according to FactSet data.  (AP Photo/Alastair Grant, File)

    FILE - In this Sept. 13, 2016 file photo, a member of staff at a branch of Halifax bank, in London, displays a new British 5 pound sterling note, made from polymer, which is being launched Tuesday. The beleaguered British pound plummeted briefly to ... a fresh 31-year low Friday, Oct. 7, 2016, amid intensifying concerns about Britain's exit from the European Union. The pound tumbled nearly 6 percent in early Asian trading, falling as low as $1.1789, according to FactSet data. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant, File) (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this Oct. 4, 2016 file photo, Pound and Euro signs are seen above a cashpoint in London. The beleaguered British pound plummeted briefly to a fresh 31-year low Friday, Oct. 7, 2016,  amid intensifying concerns about Britain's exit from the European Union. The pound tumbled nearly 6 percent in early Asian trading, falling as low as $1.1789, according to FactSet data.  (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File)

    FILE - In this Oct. 4, 2016 file photo, Pound and Euro signs are seen above a cashpoint in London. The beleaguered British pound plummeted briefly to a fresh 31-year low Friday, Oct. 7, 2016, amid intensifying concerns about Britain's exit from the ... European Union. The pound tumbled nearly 6 percent in early Asian trading, falling as low as $1.1789, according to FactSet data. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File) (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this Sept. 13, 2016 file photo, a member of staff at a branch of Halifax bank, in London, displays a new British 5 pound sterling note, made from polymer, which is being launched Tuesday.  The beleaguered British pound plummeted briefly to a fresh 31-year low Friday, Oct. 7, 2016,  amid intensifying concerns about Britain's exit from the European Union. The pound tumbled nearly 6 percent in early Asian trading, falling as low as $1.1789, according to FactSet data.  (AP Photo/Alastair Grant, File)

    FILE - In this Sept. 13, 2016 file photo, a member of staff at a branch of Halifax bank, in London, displays a new British 5 pound sterling note, made from polymer, which is being launched Tuesday. The beleaguered British pound plummeted briefly to ... a fresh 31-year low Friday, Oct. 7, 2016, amid intensifying concerns about Britain's exit from the European Union. The pound tumbled nearly 6 percent in early Asian trading, falling as low as $1.1789, according to FactSet data. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant, File) (The Associated Press)

The beleaguered British pound has plummeted briefly to a fresh 31-year low amid intensifying concerns about Britain's exit from the European Union.

Continue Reading Below

The pound tumbled nearly 6 percent in early Asian trading Friday, falling as low as $1.1789, according to FactSet data.

The British currency, which had been trading at around $1.26 the day before, recovered minutes later. It was recently trading around $1.24.

Market watchers were baffled by the pound's "flash crash."

Some attributed it to a trader's "fat finger" mistake or a rogue automated trading algorithm.

Others said the trigger might have been comments to British media by France's president. Francois Hollande insisted the European Union must take a tough stance in negotiating Britain's exit from the bloc's tariff-free single market.