GBP/USD continued to climb against the US dollar last week. The pair posted modest gains, closing at 1.6782. This week’s highlight is Retail Sales. Here is an outlook for the main events moving the pound, and an updated technical analysis for GBP/USD.
The pound got some help from solid UK employment numbers, as Claimant Count Change posted another solid decline and the Unemployment Rate unexpectedly fell below 7.0%. In the US, Unemployment Claims beat the estimate and the Philly Fed Manufacturing Index surged to its highest level since last September.Updates:
- 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.
- MPC Official Bank Rate Votes: Wednesday, 8:30. This decision is also expected to be a unanimous decision. A split vote would likely feed speculation about a rate hike by the BOE, which could result in the pound moving higher.
- Public Sector Net Borrowing: Wednesday, 8:30. The indicator has posted just one surplus since August, although the last reading of GBP7.5 billion was a smaller surplus than expected. The markets are expecting the deficit to bounce higher, with the March estimate standing at GBP8.7 billion.
- CBI Industrial Order Expectations: Wednesday, 10:00. This index is based on a survey of manufacturers and is an important gauge of the health of the UK manufacturing sector. The previous reading improved to 6 points, edging past the estimate of 5 points and marking a three-month high. Will the upward trend continue in the upcoming release?
- CBI Realized Sales: Thursday, 10:00. Realized Sales is an important consumer spending indicator, based on a survey of wholesalers and retailers. The indicator tends to show sharp fluctuations, making accurate market forecasts difficult. The February reading dropped to 13 points, way off the estimate of 30. The markets are anticipating some improvement in the March release, with the estimate standing at 18 points.
- Retail Sales: Friday, 8:30. Retail Sales is the primary gauge of consumer spending and traders should keep a close eye on this market-mover. The indicator has been showing some strong movement in both directions. The previous reading registered a strong gain of 1.7%, crushing the estimate of 0.5%. However, the markets are bracing for a reading of -0.4% in March. Will the indicator repeat and beat the prediction?
- BBA Mortgage Approvals: Friday, 8:30. This indicator is an important gauge of activity in the housing sector as well as the strength of consumer spending. The previous reading dipped to 47.6 thousand, falling short of the estimate of 50.0 thousand. The markets are anticipating a stronger reading in March, with an estimate of 48.9 thousand.
* All times are GMT
GBP/USD Technical Analysis
GBP/USD opened the week at 1.6729. The pair dipped to a low of 1.6659 but then reversed directions. The pound pushed past the 1.68 line, breaking through resistance at 1.6823 (discussed last week) and touching a high of 1.6842. GBP/USD closed the week at 1.6782.
Live chart of GBP/USD:
Technical lines from top to bottom
We start with resistance at 1.7375. This line marked the start of a sharp pound rally in March 2006, which saw the GBP/USD push above 2.11.
Next is 1.7180, which has served in a resistance since October 2008. 1.6990 is protecting the key psychological level of 1.70.
Resistance lines continue to fall, as the pound broke through 1.6823 for the first time since November 2009. This line recovered but is providing weak resistance and could face pressure early in the week.
1.6705 marks the first support level. It has gained some breathing room as GBP/USD trades close to 1.68.
The round number of 1.6600 is a strong support line. It has remained intact since early April, when the pound started its current rally. 1.6475 is the next support level.
1.6343 saw some activity in early February but has provided strong support since that time. The next support line is 1.6247.
1.6163 is the final support line for now. It was a key resistance line in October and November 2012.
I am neutral on GBP/USD.
The pound posted modest gains last week, as both the US and UK enjoyed solid employment data. We’re unlikely to see any surprises from the BOE voting breakdown on the QE and interest rate decisions. GBP/USD could see some movement if British Retail Sales surprise the markets.
- For a broad view of all the week’s major events worldwide, read the USD outlook.
- For EUR/USD, check out the Euro to Dollar forecast.
- For the Japanese yen, read the USD/JPY forecast.
- For the Australian dollar (Aussie), check out the AUD to USD forecast.