GBP/USD – British Pound Gains Ground on Strong UK Unemployment Report

GBP/USD has posted gains in the Wednesday session. In North American trade, the pair is trading slightly above the 1.22 level. On the release front, British unemployment rolls declined by 13.2 thousand, much better than expected. Wage growth dipped to 2.2%, shy of the estimate of 2.4%. In the US, it’s a very busy day. There were no surprises from key consumer reports, as retail sales and CPI posted small gains in February. Today’s highlight is the Federal Reserve policy meeting, with the central bank widely expected to raise the benchmark rate a quarter-point, from 0.50% to 0.75%. On Thursday, the Bank of England is expected to maintain the benchmark rate at 0.25%. The US will release a host of key indicators, led by unemployment claims.

The political machinations over Brexit have continued this week. On Monday, the House of Lords backed down and voted through the Brexit bill without making any changes. This move means the bill will be passed into law, allowing Theresa May’s government to trigger Article 50 and formally declare Britain’s intent to leave the European Union. There had been speculation that May might invoke Article 50 on Tuesday, but the government said it will not do so until later in March. Under Article 50, the negotiations are slated to take up to two years. Relations between Britain and the EU have nosedived since the stunning Brexit vote in June. The timing of invoking Article 50 comes at a particularly delicate time for Europe, as the Netherlands holds elections on Wednesday and France goes to the polls in April.

How Will UK Market Respond After May Triggers Article 50?

All eyes are on the Federal Reserve, which will issue a rate announcement later on Wednesday. With the markets expecting a quarter-point rate hike on Wednesday, will the currency markets react to a Fed move? Although a rate hike has been priced in by the markets at 93%, there have been disappointments in the past, so a rate move could boost the dollar at the expense of gold. Strong US employment numbers in February have reinforced market speculation that the Fed will raise rates for the first time this year. Nonfarm payrolls sparkled in February, as the indicator jumped to 235 thousand, easily beating the estimate of 196 thousand. Wage growth climbed 2.6% compared to February 2016, while the participation rate edged up to 63.0%, up from 62.9%. These solid job numbers have also provided President Trump with a much-needed boost. Trump is under pressure to present an economic agenda, but the markets won’t mind giving him some additional breathing room, with the economy performing so well.

GBP/USD Fundamentals

Wednesday (March 15)

  • 5:30 British Average Earnings Index. Estimate 2.4%. Actual 2.2%
  • 5:30 British Claimant Count Change. Estimate 3.2K. Actual -11.3K
  • 5:30 British Unemployment Rate. Estimate 4.8%. Actual 4.7%
  • 8:30 US CPI. Estimate 0.0%. Actual 0.1%
  • 8:30 US Core CPI. Estimate 0.2%. Actual 0.2%
  • 8:30 US Core Retail Sales. Estimate 0.1%. Actual 0.2%
  • 8:30 US Retail Sales. Estimate 0.2%. Actual 0.1%
  • 8:30 US Empire State Manufacturing Index. Estimate 15.3. Actual 16.4
  • 10:00 US Business Inventories. Estimate 0.3%. 
  • 10:00 US NAHB Housing Market Index. Estimate 65
  • 10:30 US Crude Oil Inventories. Estimate 3.3M
  • 14:00 US FOMC Economic Projections
  • 14:00 US FOMC Statement
  • 14:00 US Federal Funds Rate. Estimate <1.00%
  • 14:00 US FOMC Press Conference
  • 16:00 US TIC Long-Term Purchases. Estimate 13.4B

Upcoming Key Events

Thursday (March 16)

  • 8:00 MPC Official Bank Rate Votes. Estimate 0-0-9
  • 8:00 BoE Monetary Policy Summary
  • 8:00 BoE Official Bank Rate. Estimate 0.25%
  • 8:00 BoE Asset Purchase Facility. Estimate 435B
  • 8:00 MPC Asset Purchase Facility Votes. Estimate 0-0-9
  • 8:30 US Building Permits. Estimate 1.26M
  • 8:30 US Philly Fed Manufacturing Index. Estimate 30.2
  • 8:30 US Unemployment Claims. Estimate 245K
  • 10:00 US JOLTS Openings. Estimate 5.45M

*All release times are GMT

*Key events are in bold

GBP/USD for Wednesday, March 15, 2017

GBP/USD March 15 at 11:50 EST

Open: 1.2156 High: 1.2255 Low: 1.2154 Close: 1.2214

GBP/USD Technical

S1 S2 S1 R1 R2 R3
1.1943 1.2033 1.2143 1.2272 1.2351 1.2471
  • GBP/USD edged higher in the Asian session and posted stronger gains in European trade. The pair is steady in the North American session
  • 1.2143 has some breathing room in support following gains by GBP/USD
  • 1.2272 is the next resistance line

Further levels in both directions:

  • Below: 1.2143, 1.2033 and 1.1943
  • Above: 1.2272, 1.2351, 1.2471 and 1.2579
  • Current range: 1.2143 to 1.2272

OANDA’s Open Positions Ratio

GBP/USD ratio is unchanged in the Wednesday session. Currently, long positions have a majority (67%). This is indicative of trader bias towards GBP/USD continuing to climb higher.

This article is for general information purposes only. It is not investment advice or a solution to buy or sell securities. Opinions are the authors; not necessarily that of OANDA Corporation or any of its affiliates, subsidiaries, officers or directors. Leveraged trading is high risk and not suitable for all. You could lose all of your deposited funds.

Kenny Fisher

Kenny Fisher

Currency Analyst at Market Pulse
Kenny Fisher joined OANDA in 2012 as a Currency Analyst. Kenny writes a daily column about current economic and political developments affecting the major currency pairs, with a focus on fundamental analysis. Kenny began his career in forex at Bendix Foreign Exchange in Toronto, where he worked as a Corporate Account Manager for over seven years.