GBP/USD Outlook March 3-7

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GBP/USD reversed directions last week, posting gains of 100 points. The pair closed the week slightly above the 1.66 line. This week’s highlights are the PMI releases. Here is an outlook for the main events moving the pound, and an updated technical analysis for GBP/USD.

US releases continue to sputter, as GDP missed the estimate and Unemployment Claims were higher than expected. In the UK, GDP posted a strong gain and CBI Realized Sales rose sharply.

Updates:

GBP/USD graph with support and resistance lines on it. Click to enlarge:  GBPUSD Forecast Mar. 3-7

  1. Manufacturing PMI: Monday, 9:30. This is the first key event of the week. Manufacturing PMI has been steady, with the January release coming in at 56.7 points, slightly beneath the estimate of 57.1. Little change is expected in the upcoming release.
  2. Net Lending To Individuals: Monday, 9:30. Analysts are interested in consumer borrowing, since this is closely related to consumer spending, which is a key component of economic growth. The indicator looked good last month, rising to $2.3 billion, well above the estimate of $1.9 billion. The markets are expecting a stronger release in February, with the estimate standing at $2.5 billion.
  3. Halifax HPI: Tuesday, 4th-7th. This housing price index is an important gauge of activity in the UK housing sector. The index posted a strong gain of 1.1% last month, rebounding nicely after a decline a month earlier. Another gain is expected in the upcoming release, with an estimate of 0.6%.
  4. Construction PMI: Tuesday, 9:30. Construction PMI is looking sharp, as it continues to trade well above the 60-point level, indicating strong expansion in the construction industry. The January release came in at 64.6 points, easily surpassing the estimate of 61.6. Another strong reading is expected in February, with an estimate of 63.6 points.
  5. BOE Deputy Governor Jon Cunliffe Speaks: Tuesday, 10:30. Cunliffe will speak before the House of Lords EU Sub-Committee on Economic and Financial Affairs in London. Remarks which are more hawkish than expected are bullish for the pound.
  6. BRC Shop Price Index: Wednesday, 00:01. This minor indicator measures inflation as reported by shops belonging to the BRC chain. The indicator continues to post declines, with the January release dropping to -1.0%.
  7. Services PMI: Wednesday, 9:30. Services PMI continues to point to expansion, but the index has now lost ground for three consecutive releases. The January release came in at 58.3 points, short of the estimate of 59.1. The forecast for the upcoming release stands at 58.0 points.
  8. Asset Purchase Facility: Thursday, 12:00. The BOE is expected to maintain its QE scheme at 375 billion pounds, where it has been pegged since July 2012. No change is expected in the February release.
  9. Official Bank Rate: Thursday, 12:00. The BOE has maintained the benchmark interest rate at 0.50%, where it has stood for almost five years. There is increasing speculation that the Bank may have to raise rates to respond to the strong economy, but no change is expected in the upcoming release.
  10. Consumer Inflation Expectations: Friday, 9:30. Consumers continue to expect high inflation, with recent readings coming in above 3%. The previous release posted a gain of 3.6%, well above the levels we are seeing from CPI and other inflation indicators.

* All times are GMT

GBP/USD Technical Analysis

GBP/USD opened the week at 1.6631. The pair quickly touched a low of 1.6583, breaking below support at 1.66 (discussed last week). but then reversed directions and climbed past the 1.67 line, hitting a high of  1.6769. GBP/USD closed the week at 1.6731.

Live chart of GBP/USD:




Technical lines from top to bottom

We start with resistance at 1.7383. This line marked the start of a rally by the pound back in April 2006, which climbed as high as the 2.11 level.

1.7180 has served in a resistance role since October 2008.

1.6990 is next. This line has been protecting the key 1.70 level and has held firm since October 2008.

1.6823 held firm as the pound posted strong gains during the week.

1.6705 was easily breached by the pair this week and has reverted to a support role.  It is a weak line and could face pressure early in the week.

The round number of 1.6600 has some breathing room as the pound trades at higher levels.

1.6475 remains a strong support line. 1.6343 is the next support level.

1.6247 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 enjoyed excellent gains last week, but can it continue the rally? Much will depend on the PMI releases this week. The US has run into some turbulence but market sentiment remains positive over the US economy and the Fed is likely to trim QE again in March.

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.

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