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The British pound  posted slight gains last week, as GBP/USD closed at 1.5426. This week’s highlights are the PMI reports. Here is an outlook on the major events moving the pound and an updated technical analysis for GBP/USD.

British Second Estimate GDP matched the forecast, with a reading of 0.5%. In the US, Janet Yellen’s testimony signaled that a Fed rate hike is not imminent and that wage growth and inflation will  need to improve first.

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

GBPUSD_Forecast Mar.3-6

  1. Nationwide HPI: Monday, 7:00. This index is an important gauge of a activity in the housing sector. The indicator posted a gain of 0.3% in January, within expectations. Little change is expected in the February report, with an estimate of 0.4%.
  2. Manufacturing PMI:  Monday, 9:30.  The PMI reports kick off with this key index. The indicator  continues to post gains above the 50-point level, pointing to ongoing expansion in the manufacturing  sector. The estimate for the upcoming reading stands at 53.5 points.
  3. Net Lending to Individuals:  Monday, 9:30. This indicator is closely linked to consumer spending, a key component of economic growth. The indicator slipped to 2.2 billion pounds in December, its lowest level in 11 months. The markets are expecting an improvement in the February report, with an estimate of 2.7 billion pounds.
  4. M4 Money Supply:  Monday, 9:30. This indicator has been showing little movement recently, and posted a gain of 0.1% in December, well off the forecast of 0.5%. The estimate for the January report stands at 0.3%.
  5. Mortgage Approvals: Thursday, 9:30.  Mortgage Approvals helps gauge the strength of the UK housing sector. The indicator has been steady in recent readings. The December reading came in at 60 thousand, matching the forecast. Little change is expected in the upcoming release.
  6. Construction PMI: Tuesday, 9:30. Construction PMI improved to 59.1 points in January, beating the estimate of 56.9 points. No change is expected in the February report.
  7. BOE Governor Mark Carney Speaks: Tuesday, 10:00. Carney will deliver remarks before the Treasury Select Committee in London. The markets will be looking for hints regarding the BOE’s future monetary policy.
  8. BRC Shop Price Index: Wednesday, 00:01. This indicator measures consumer inflation in the BRC shops. The index continues to post declines and came in at -1.3% in January.
  9. Halifax HPI: Wednesday, 4th-9th. The index surprised the markets with a strong gain of 2.0% in January, crushing the estimate of 0.1%. This marked the indicator’s strongest gain since June. The estimate for the February report stands at 0.6%.
  10. Services PMI: Wednesday, 9:30. Services PMI improved to 47.2 points in January, ahead of the estimate   of 56.6 points. The markets are expecting a slight increase in February, with an estimate of 56.6 points.
  11. Official Bank Rate: Thursday, 12:00.  Thursday, 12:00. The BoE is expected to leave the interest rate unchanged at 0.50%. With inflation levels continuing to drop, the BOE is under no pressure to raise rates, so the divergence between the US and UK will continue to weigh on the pound.  The asset-purchase facility  program  has  been pegged at  375 billion pounds since June 2012. No change is expected in the upcoming release.
  12. Consumer Inflation Expectations: Friday, 9:30. Analysts use this quarterly indicator to help gauge actual inflation trends. The indicator came in at 2.5% in Q3, its lowest level since 2010. Will the downward trend continue in the Q4 release?

* All times are GMT

GBP/USD Technical Analysis

GBP/USD opened the week at 1.5387  and dropped to a low of  1.5332. The pair then rebounded sharply, climbing to a high of 1.5552, testing resistance at 1.5539 (discussed last week). GBP/USD  lost ground late in the week,  closing  at 1.5426.

Live chart of GBP/USD:

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Technical lines from top to bottom

1.6002 is protecting  the psychologically important 1.60 level. This is followed by 1.5912.

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

1.5625 has held firm since late December.

1.5539 was briefly breached as the pair posted strong gains before retracting.

1.5416 has switched to a support role.  It is a weak line and could continue to see activity early in the week.

1.5290 is the next support line.

1.5114 is a strong support level.

1.5008 is protecting the symbolic 1.50 level. This is the final support level for now.

I am neutral on GBP/USD.

The pound has enjoyed a couple of quiet weeks, and that could continue if this week’s PMIs are within expectations. The BOJ signaled that its accommodative monetary stance will continue, and this will  weigh on the struggling  Japanese yen.  In the US, Fed chair Yellen tried to dampen expectations about a mid-rate hike in her Congressional testimony, but a strong NFP could boost the June rate expectations.

In this week’s podcast, we cover Questions for traders, State of Fed, Greek crisis, oil, gold and GBP

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