GBP/USD Outlook March 18-22

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The British pound finally turned things around last week, climbing around two cents against the US dollar. The pair closed at 1.5114. This week’s highlights include CPI and Claimant Count Change. Here is an outlook of the events and an updated technical analysis for GBP/USD.

British data was nothing to write home about, as housing and manufacturing numbers fell below expectations. However, the pound took advantage of weak manufacturing and consumer confidence numbers in the US, and enjoyed its best weekly rally so far in 2013.

Updates: Rightmove HPI posted a gain of 1.7%. This was considerably lower than the February reading of 2.8%. CPI came in at 2.8%, matching the forecast. PPI Input posted a strong gain of 3.2%, way above the estimate of 1.7%. RPI, which has been very steady, rose 3.2%, just below the estimate of 3.3%. Core CPI gained 2.3%, beating the forecast of 2.2%. HPI posted a gain of 2.2%, missing the estimate of 2.6%. PPI Output looked sharp, rising 0.8%. The estimate stood at 0.2%. There are three major releases on Wednesday – Claimant Count Change, MPC Meeting Minutes and the Annual Budget Release. The pound has pushed higher, breaking across the 1.51 line. GBP/USD was trading at 1.5116. Claimant Count Change posted its third consecutive decline, but the March drop was more modest, at -1.5 thousand. This was well below the estimate of -5.2 thousand. The BOE released the minutes of the last MPC meeting. The protocol showed that three policymakers, including Governor King were in favor of increase asset purchases to GBP400 billion. However, there were outvoted 6-3. The vote to maintain interest rates at 0.50% was a unanimous 9-0. The unemployment rate remained pegged at 7.8%, as expected. The Average Earnings Index rose 1.2%, missing the forecast of 1.5%. The government released the Annual Budget. The markets were not impressed as the budget downgraded economic growth to 0.6%, in contrast to the December forecast of 1.2% growth. Retail Sales was outstanding, jumping 2.1%. This blew away the forecast of 0.5%. Public Sector Net Borrowing posted a deficit of 4.4 billion pounds, which beat the estimate of 8.4 billion pounds. CBI Industrial Order Expectations continues to be mired in negative territory, posting a weak reading of -15 points. This was just above the forecast of -16 points. The pound has moved higher, as GBP/USD was trading at 1.5160.

GBP/USD graph with support and resistance lines on it. Click to enlarge:   GBP USD Forecast Mar 18-22

  1. Rightmove HPI: Monday, 00:01. This housing inflation index has been erratic, but posted a sharp gain of 2.8% in the previous reading. The markets will be hoping for another strong showing in the March release.
  2. CPI: Tuesday, 9:30. This key consumer inflation index has been steady as a rock, as the past four readings have all posted a 2.7% gain. The estimate for the March reading stands at 2.8%.
  3. PPI Input: Tuesday, 9:30.The Producer Price Input is a key release and a potential market-mover. The index climbed a robust 1.3% in February, beating the forecast of 0.9%. The markets are expecting another strong release for March, with the estimate standing at 1.6%.
  4. RPI: Tuesday, 9:30. The Retail Price Index includes housing costs, in contrast to CPI. The February reading came in at 3.3%, and the estimate is identical for the upcoming release.
  5. Claimant Count Change: Wednesday, 9:30. One of the most important economic indicators, Claimant Count Change can affect the direction of GBP/USD and is closely monitored by the markets. The indicator has posted declines in the past three releases, easily beating the forecast each time. The previous reading was very excellent, at -12.5 thousand. The estimate for March calls for another decline, albeit a smaller one, at -5.2 thousand. The Unemployment Rate is expected to inch up from 7.7%. to 7.8%.
  6. MPC Meeting Minutes: Wednesday, 9:30. MPC Meeting Minutes is another key indicator which is keenly awaited by market analysts. The detailed record of the MPC’s most recent policy meeting includes the votes on the interest rate and asset purchase decisions by the BOE.
  7. Annual Budget Release: Wednesday, 12:30. The Budget Release lays out the UK government’s budget for this year, and details anticipated spending, income and borrowing levels. These all have a major impact on the economy, and the budget can affect the movement of GBP/USD, depending on the market reaction to the budget.
  8. Retail Sales: Thursday, 9:30. Retail Sales has declined for two straight months, underscoring weak consumer spending. The markets are expecting a turnaround in March, with an estimate of a 0.5% gain.
  9. Public Sector Net Borrowing: Thursday, 9:30. Public Sector Net Borrowing posted a rare surplus in February, but nonetheless fell short of the estimate. The markets are expecting a deficit in the upcoming release, with an estimate at 8.4 billion pounds.
  10. CBI Industrial Order Expectations: Thursday, 11:00. This important manufacturing indicator has been mired deep in negative territory. The indicator improved last month, but posted a weak reading of -14 points. The estimate for the March release is -16 points.

GBP/USD Technical Analysis

GBP/USD opened the week at 1.4907. The pair fell as low as 1.4831, but roared back, touching a high of 1.5177, as the resistance line of 1.5189 (discussed last week) remained intact. GBP/USD closed the week at 1.5114.

Technical lines from top to bottom:

With the pound losing more ground last week, we begin at lower levels. There is resistance at 1.5567. This  line last saw activity in mid-February. This is followed by resistance at 1.5484. Next, there is resistance at 1.5406. This line had served in a support role since July 2012, before reverting to resistance line in mid-February. Next, there is resistance is at 1.5282. This is followed by 1.5189, which was briefly breached as the pound showed flexed some muscle early in the week.

GBP/USD is receiving support at 1.5061. Next is 1.5010, protecting the all important 1.50 level. We next encounter support at 1.4896, just below the round number of 1.49. The pair broke through this line early in the week, but it remains intact. Below is 1.4765, which has remained intact since June 2010. This is followed by support at 1.4665. Next is support at 1.4540. The final support line for now is at 1.4374, which has held firm since June 2010.

Another technical look: Pin Bar Reversal on 4 Hour GBP/USD Chart

I remain bearish on GBP/USD.

The pound had an excellent week, but the trend in 2013 has been almost all downwards. The UK economy continues to sputter, in contrast to the US, which has posted some solid numbers of late. This has resulted in the dollar putting more pressure on the pound. Given the sharp contrast in the prospects for the two economies, the pound will have a tough time making more gains against the dollar.

Further reading:

Get the 5 most predictable currency pairs

About Author

Kenny Fisher - Senior Writer A native of Toronto, Canada, Kenneth worked for seven years in the marketing and trading departments at Bendix, a foreign exchange company in Toronto. Kenneth is also a lawyer, and has extensive experience as an editor and writer.