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  • GBP/USD has slipped beneath 1.3400 in recent trade back towards the 1.3350 area amid a broad USD pickup.
  • US data has been mixed/downbeat but has been broadly ignored as GBP remains fixated by Brexit.

The US dollar has been picking up in recent trade, with the Dollar Index (DXY) gradually rising back towards the 90.50 mark from earlier lows closer to 90.00. The recent pick up is unsurprisingly putting USD majors on the back foot; GBP/USD is no different and has recently dropped back below the 1.3400 level and towards 1.3350. At present, GBP is amongst the three worst-performing G10 currencies on the day (alongside AUD and NZD), with GBP/USD trading lower by around 0.8% or over 100 pips.

USD pickup despite broadly soft US data dump

Final Q3 GDP data released at 13:30GMT was a little better than expected, with the annualised rate of Q3 QoQ growth revised higher to 33.4% from 33.1%. Q3 Corporate profits and Core PCE price numbers were revised a little lower, however. More recently, Existing Home Sales data for November and Consumer Confidence data for December were released, the latter making for a much more pessimistic reading.

Starting with November Existing Home Sales; the total number of Existing Home Sales over the last year come in pretty much bang in line with expectations at 6.69M (exp. 6.7M), but the MoM change in sales showed a steeper than expected drop of -2.5% (exp. -1.0%).

Now looking at December Consumer Confidence data; the headline index number fell to 88.6 from 92.9 in November versus expectations for a rise to 97.0. Moreover, the current conditions index dropped to 90.3 from 105.9 last month, while expectations dropped to 87.5 from 89.5.

“Consumers’ assessment of current conditions deteriorated sharply in December, as the resurgence of COVID-19 remains a drag on confidence,” said Lynn Franco, Senior Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board, the company that collates and releases this Consumer Confidence Index. “As a result, consumers’ vacation intentions, which had notably improved in October, have retreated. On the flip side, as consumers continue to hunker down at home, intentions to purchase appliances have risen. Overall, it appears that growth has weakened further in Q4, and consumers do not foresee the economy gaining any significant momentum in early 2021.”

The US dollar has broadly been unaffected by Tuesday’s US data, however, as trade conditions continue to quieten ahead of the Christmas holidays. In terms of the reason behind the dollar’s sticky bid on Tuesday; a resurgence of Covid-19 and Brexit concerns is seemingly keeping the buck in demand for the time being, and may continue to do so for the rest of the week.

Brexit latest

Switching over to the GBP side of the GBP/USD equation, the latest on Brexit is comments from an EU diplomat that no agreement has yet been reached on the issue of fisheries. Still, the fact that the UK significantly improved its offer to the EU on Monday and continue to negotiate intensively behind the scenes implies that there is still hope. Hope enough to keep GBP/USD supported well above the 1.3300 level for now anyway. Of course, should talks come to a standstill again, GBP/USD is likely to drop back down towards weekly lows around 1.3200, while if a deal on fisheries is reached, a test of recent highs above 1.3500 is likely.