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The  British pound  tumbled on Friday, losing 240 points to the US dollar.  The pair closed  the week at 1.5314, its lowest level since August 2014.  This  week’s highlights are PMIs and Manufacturing Production.  Here is an outlook on the major events moving the  pound and an updated technical analysis for GBP/USD.

The pound plunged on Friday, as Manufacturing PMI missed expectations and fell to a 3-month low. In the US, key data was on the weak side, as Unemployment claims climbed higher  and the ISM Manufacturing PMI softened.

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GBP/USD graph with support and resistance lines on it. Click to enlarge:

GBPUSDForecast Jan.5-9

  1. Construction PMI:  Monday, 9:30. Construction PMI continues to point to strong expansion, but the index slipped below the 60-point line in November, with a reading of 59.4 points. This was well short of the estimate of 61.1 points. Little change is expected in the December release.
  2. Halifax HPI:  Tuesday, 6th-9th. This indicator provides a snapshot of the level of activity in the UK housing sector. The index bounced back nicely in November with a gain of 0.4%., above the forecast of 0.2%.  The forecast for the upcoming reading stands at 0.3%.
  3. Services PMI:  Tuesday, 9:30. The PMI parade started last week with a disappointing Manufacturing PMI. Services PMI improved to 58.6 points, easily beating the estimate of 56.6 points. The markets are expecting another strong reading in the December release, with the estimate standing at 58.9 points.
  4. BOE Credit Conditions Survey:  Tuesday, 9:30. This quarterly report looks at credit conditions in the private sector. Higher debt levels means that consumers and businesses are more comfortable borrowing and spending, which is critical for economic growth.
  5. 10-year Bond Auction:  Tuesday, Tentative. The 10-year bond yield lost significant ground in 2014, starting the year close to the 3% level. The November yield showed little change, with a reading of 2.21%.
  6. BRC Shop Price Index:  Wednesday, 00:01. This indicator measures consumer inflation in BRC stores. The index has  been pointing downwards, with the past two readings coming in at  -1.9%.
  7. Official Bank Rate:  Thursday, 12:00.The BoE is expected to leave the interest rate unchanged at 0.50%. The markets will be interested in the voting breakdown which is expected to remain at 7-2 in favor of maintaining rates at their current levels.
  8. Asset Purchase Facility:  Thursday, 12:00. The asset-purchase facility  program  has  been pegged at  375 billion pounds since June 2012. No change is expected in the upcoming release.
  9. Manufacturing Production: Friday, 9:30. This indicator should be treated by traders as a market-mover. The indicator posted a decline of 0.7% in October, well off the forecast of 0.2%. This marked the first decline since May. The markets are expecting a strong turnaround in the November reading, with an estimate of a gain of 0.4%.
  10. Trade Balance:  Friday, 9:30. Trade Balance is closely linked to currency demand, foreigners must purchase pounds to buy British goods and services. The UK continues to register trade deficits, with the previous reading coming in at GBP -9.6 billion, very close to the estimate. More of the same is expected in the November release, with a forecast of GBP-9.5 billion.
  11. NIESR GDP Estimate: Friday, 15:00. This indicator helps analysts track GDP, which is released each quarter, on a monthly basis. The indicator has been very steady, posting three straight gains of 0.7%.

* All times are GMT

GBP/USD Technical Analysis

GBP/USD  opened the week at 1.5551 and climbed to a high of 1.5620, just shy of resistance at 1.5625 (discussed last week). The pair then  reversed  directions on Friday,  dropping sharply  to a  low of 1.5314, which also marked the close for the week.

Live chart of GBP/USD:

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Technical  lines from top to bottom

With the pound taking a beating last week, we start at lower levels:

1.5940 has marked an important resistance line since early November. This is followed by 1.5839.

1.5746  remains a strong resistance line. It was an important support level in January 2013.

1.5625 was under pressure but held firm before the pair plummeted lower late last week.

1.5539 has switched to a resistance role as the pair dropped sharply.

1.5416 has also switched to resistance. The pair was an important  support line in June 2013, at which time the pound broke through and continued to slide and fell below the 1.49 line.

1.5290 was a cushion in July 2013.

1.5114  has held firm since  March 2013.

1.5008 is the final support level for now. This line is protecting the psychologically important 1.50 level.

I  am  neutral  on GBP/USD.

With the pound imploding the day after New Year’s we could see a correction upwards. At the same time, the dollar starts 2015 with strong momentum as its rivals are in retreat. Divergence will continue to weigh on the pound, as the Federal Reserve is  expected to raise rates while the BOE has backtracked somewhat from tightening.

In this week’s podcast, we offer a preview for 2015:  the Fed hike, EZ QE, slippery oil, UK politics, Big in Japan, AUD down under, Loonie blues and Gold

Further reading: