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The British pound  lost ground  early  last  the week but recovered and posted slight gains over the week. The pair closed  the week  at 1.6253. It promises to be a busy week, with some key releases as well as the Scottish independence referendum.  Here is an outlook for the main events moving the pound, and an updated technical analysis for GBP/USD.

British Manufacturing Production, last week’s market-mover,  met expectations. In the US, employment data was soft, but consumer confidence and retail sales  beat the estimates. Despite the strong US numbers, the pound was able to hold its own against the dollar.

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

GBPUSD Forecast Sep15-19

  1. Rightmove HPI: Sunday, 23:01. This housing inflation index helps gauge the amount of activity in the British housing market. The index has been losing ground, and posted a sharp decline of 2.9% in July. Will the downturn continue?
  2. BoE Quarterly Bulletin: Monday, 23:01. This report provides details and commentary about the BoE’s monetary policy operations. As a minor event, it is unlikely to affect the movement of GBP/USD.
  3. CPI:  Tuesday, 8:30. CPI is the primary gauge of consumer inflation. The index  softened last month, with a gain  of  1.6%. This was shy of the estimate  of 1.8%. The markets  are expecting another drop, with the August estimate standing at 1.5%.
  4. PPI Input:  Tuesday, 8:30. This index is an important indicator of manufacturing inflation. After seven straight declines, the markets are expecting a gain of 0.1% in the upcoming release.
  5. RPI:  Tuesday, 8:30. RPI includes housing costs, which are excluded in the CPI release. The index has hovered close to 2.5% throughout the year, and the  August estimate stands at 2.5%, unchanged from the previous reading.
  6. Average Earnings Index:  Wednesday, 8:30. The indicator has been slipping for four straight readings and dropped to -0.2% last month, edging below the estimate of -0.1%. The markets are expecting a turnaround in the August reading, with an estimate of +0.5%.
  7. Claimant Count Change: Wednesday, 8:30. This indicator measures the change in unemployment claims in the UK. It is one of the most important economic releases and traders should treat it as a market-mover. The indicator continues to post impressive numbers, and came in at -33.6 thousand claims, easily beating the estimate of -29.7 thousand. The estimate for the upcoming release stands at -29.7 thousand. The unemployment rate, which has been falling for five straight months, is expected to dip to 6.3%.
  8. MPC Asset Purchase Facility Votes: Wednesday, 8:30. Analysts closely monitor the voting breakdown of the MPC vote on QE, which is expected to be a unanimous 9-0 decision. A non-unanimous vote indicates some dissension by policymakers as to the desirable QE level.
  9. MPC Official Bank Rate Votes: Wednesday, 8:30. The previous vote was 7-2, with 2 members favoring a hike in rates, with the majority in favor of maintaining  interest rates at 0.50%.  The split vote  caused a stir in the markets, and another split vote could push the pound higher. The markets are anticipating another 7-2 vote.
  10. Retail Sales: Thursday, 8:30. Retail Sales is the most important consumer spending indicator, and can have a significant effect on the movement of GBP/USD. After several soft readings, the markets are expecting better news from the August release, with the  estimate standing at 0.4%.
  11. CBI Industrial Order Expectations: Thursday, 10:00. The indicator tends to show sharp fluctuations and bounced back last month, rising 11 points. This crushed the forecast of 4 points. Another strong gain is expected, with an estimate of 9 points.
  12. Scottish Independence Vote:    Thursday. Final results expected on Friday.  Scottish voters will decide whether to split from the United Kingdom or stay as one country with England, Wales and Northern Ireland. A YouGov poll conducted for The Sunday Times and released on Sunday showed the “yes” vote at 51% and “no” at 49% and that certainly hurt the pound, while a more updated poll already showed a 4% lead. There are many other polls that impact sterling. Scotland’s first minister and SNP leader Alex Salmond has been a vocal proponent of independence. British Prime Minister David Cameron wants Scotland to remain part of an undivided United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Uncertainty over the outcome of the Scottish referendum weakened the pound. It’s important to note that the odds lean to a No vote, but nothing is priced in. So, a No vote would send the pound significantly higher, yet a Yes vote would be devastating for the pound, and it could test the 2010 levels.

* All times are GMT

GBP/USD Technical Analysis

GBP/USD started the week at 1.6214, and dropped to a low of 1.6052. The pair then rebounded and climbed to a high of 1.6276. The pair closed the week at 1.6253,  with immediate support  at 1.6250 (discussed last week).

Live chart of GBP/USD:

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Technical  lines from top to bottom

We start off with resistance at 1.6740. This line  capped the pair on a recovery attempt in August and is currently high resistance.

1.6660 was a swing low in April and also in August.

1.6615 is the top of the current range after capping it in August. The bottom of the range is at 1.6535.

Below, we have 1.6465, which was the bottom in March. Further below, the round number of 1.64 is providing resistance.

1.6310, the next resistance line, was a cushion during  January.

This is followed by 1.6250, the low seen in February. It was breached  last week and has switched to a support line. It could see more action early in the week.

1.6131 has remained intact since August 2011. At that time, the dollar posted an impressive rally which as GDP/USD dropped close to the 1.53 line.

1.6006  has held firm since October, and stands just above the psychologically important 1.60 level.

1.5909 was last tested in  late October.

The final support line for now is 1.5746, which  was important support in  January.

I am bearish  on GBP/USD.

We’ll get a look at British CPI and Retail Sales, but the market focus will be on Scotland, with a possibly historic referendum taking place on Thursday.  With the vote expected to be very close,  we could see some  nervous investors decide to dump their pounds.  With the US economy moving forward and the Fed expected to further trim QE,   the improved US dollar could post further gains.

Listen to our latest podcast about: gold and inflation, the Scottish referendum and the pound, and the FOMC meeting.

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