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The  British pound  challenged recent lows, but managed to recover in a volatile week. Employment figures are the highlight of this week, among quite a few other events. Here is an outlook for these events, and an updated technical analysis for GBP/USD.

The huge QE program introduced in the UK pounded the pound, that fell to levels last seen in July 2010. But not all is terrible in Britain. The series of PMIs was slightly better than expected: manufacturing rose back to the growth zone (although new exports fell), and the large services sector surprised with relatively strong growth. Only construction caused serious worries.

GBP/USD daily graph with support and resistance lines on it. Click to enlarge:GBP USD Chart October 10 14 2011

  1. Nationwide Consumer Confidence: Publication time unknown at the moment. This survey of around 1000 people has been quite stable in recent months, around 50 points. It is expected to tick down from last month’s 48 points.
  2. BRC Retail Sales Monitor: Monday, 23:00. The British Retail Consortium represents a large portion of Britain’s retailers and this report is a good guidance for the official retail sales figure. After a drop of 0.6% last month, a small rise is likely now.
  3. RICS House Price Balance: Monday, 23:00. The report measures the balance between areas experiencing a drop in prices and areas seeing a rise. throughout most of the year, the figure ranged between -20% and -30%. A similar number to last month’s -23% is expected now. The negative number means that prices are falling.
  4. Manufacturing Production: Tuesday, 8:30. This important indicator has shown a rise of 0.1% last month. No change is expected now. Note that the figure is for the month of August. The wider, yet less important Industrial Production number is expected to follow suit.
  5. NIESR GDP Estimate: Tuesday, 14:00. The National Institute of Economic and Social Research think tank provides up to date monthly estimations of GDP for the past three months. This one is of high interest as it concludes the full third quarter. For the three months ending in August, NIESR has shown a growth rate of only 0.2%.
  6. Employment data: Wednesday, 8:30. Britain’s job situation is worsening.  Claimant Count Change, which is practically jobless claims in other countries, has risen in the past 6 months, worrying many. Another rise in claims is expected for the month of September, and probably a bit higher than last month’s 20.3K. The unemployment rate for August (a lagging figure) will likely remain unchanged.
  7. CB Leading Index: Wednesday, 9:00. This index combines 7 economic indicators, some of them already known to the public. Nevertheless, it still has an impact. A rise of 0.3% last month will probably be followed by a smaller rise this time.

* All times are GMT.

GBP/USD Technical Analysis

Pound/dollar started the week on a lower note. At first, it managed to hold above the 1.5350 line (mentioned last week), but it then collapsed and hit 1.5271 before recovering very nicely and eventually closing almost unchanged for the week.

Technical levels from top to bottom

The round number of 1.60 remains the top line for now. It worked well in both directions during 2011. 1.5910, which was a peak many months ago, gave a fight, but was eventually broken and is distinct line separating ranges. Any recovery attempt will meet fierce resistance here.

1.5823, which worked as stubborn support early in the year is now minor resistance.  It is closely followed by the swing low of 1.5780, a  minor resistance in 2010, which is high resistance now. 1.5706 was a previous low and proved to work as strong resistance.

1.5633 worked as support during September was only very temporarily breached in October.  It is followed by 1.5530 which was the bottom line of the recent range, and had a similar role back in 2010. It now turns into support.

1.5480 has a minor role as support after working as resistance a long time ago. It managed to hold the pound down for some time in October and is a minor line.  1.5350 provided strong support at the beginning of the year but is now more vulnerable.

The new year to date low of 1.5271 is now strong support.  Lower, 1.5120 was a stepping stone for the pound on the way up. The last line is very round 1.50.

I turn from neutral to bearish on GBP/USD.

The weight of QE2 in Britain on the pound will be felt for some time. In addition, the economy is hardly growing, while in the US, we got a positive sign from the job market, at last. This will likely be contrasted with a more problematic British job market.

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