GBP/USD has posted losses in the Friday session, continuing the downward trend seen on Thursday. In the North American session, the pair is trading at the 1.31 line, down 0.24% on the day. On the release front, there are no British events on the schedule. In the US, employment numbers were solid. Nonfarm payrolls slowed to 209 thousand, but easily beat the estimate of 182 thousand. Wage growth remained steady at 0.3% and the unemployment rate dipped lower to 4.3%, matching the forecast.
The British pound reacted negatively on Thursday as the BoE cut its growth forecasts for 2017, from 1.9% in May to 1.7%, and for 2018, from 1.7% to 1.6%. As well, the bank sharply cut lowered its wage growth forecast for 2018, from 3.5% to 3.0%. The BoE held rates at 0.25%, but the minutes from the policy meeting were dovish, with MPC members warning that “GDP growth had been sluggish and was expected to remain so in the near term.” The BoE’s pessimistic message has dashed hopes of a rate hike before the end of the year, although the bank suggested that a slight improvement in growth could lead to a rate hike in 2018. BoE policymakers have publicly argued about monetary policy, and the vote at Thursday’s meeting, 6 members favored holding rates, while only 2 members voted to raise rates. The British economy has slowed down, but the bank is reluctant to raise rates when inflation is running at 2.6%, well above the bank’s target of 2%. To complicate matters, the Brexit talks have made little progress, raising fears of a messy exit from the EU, which could take a serious toll on the British economy. The City of London, a key European financial center, stands to lose thousands of financial jobs due to Brexit. Deutsche Bank announced that it will move at least 2,000 jobs from its London office to Frankfurt, and RBS has announced that it will relocate its London office to Amsterdam.
Federal Reserve policymakers continue to talk about the possibility of a December rate hike, but with the odds for a December increase pegged at just 42%, it’s clear that the markets are skeptical about a third rate hike in 2017. Investor attention has shifted to the Fed’s balance sheet, which stands at $4.2 trillion. Fed policymakers have broadly hinted at reducing purchases of bonds and securities starting in September, but San Francisco Fed President John Williams was more forthcoming about the Fed’s plans this week, in a clear message that was likely aimed at giving notice to the markets. In a speech on Wednesday, Williams said that the economy had “fully recovered” from the 2008 financial crisis and called on the Fed to start trimming the balance sheet “this fall”. Williams added that the process would be gradual and would take four years to reduce the balance sheet to a “reasonable size”. On Wednesday, two other FOMC members also came out in support of starting to taper the balance sheet – St. Louis Fed President James Bullard and Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester.
With the Federal Reserve widely expected to begin trimming its balance sheet next month, how will this affect the US dollar? The Fed is expected to initiate the wind-down by not replacing maturing bonds, which will reduce the balance sheet by $200 billion in 2017, according to the Institute of International Finance (IFF). The IFF estimates that this would be equivalent to three normal interest hikes, so the greenback should head upwards once the Fed starts winding down its bloated balance sheet.
Friday (August 4)
- 8:30 US Average Hourly Earnings. Estimate 0.3%. Actual. 0.3%
- 8:30 US Nonfarm Employment Change. Estimate 182K. Actual 209K
- 8:30 US Unemployment Rate. Estimate 4.3%. Actual 4.3%
- 8:30 US Trade Balance. Estimate -43.9B. Actual -43.6B
*All release times are EDT
*Key events are in bold
GBP/USD for Friday, August 4, 2017
GBP/USD August 4 at 8:45 EDT
Open: 1.3139 High: 1.3165 Low: 1.3128 Close: 1.3103
- GBP/USD was flat in the Asian session. The pair has shown more movement in the European session, but remains unchanged on the day
- 1.3121 remains a weak support line
- 1.3238 is the next resistance line
Further levels in both directions:
- Below: 1.3121, 1.3058, 1.2946 and 1.2865
- Above: 1.3238, 1.3347 and 1.3480
- Current range: 1.3121 to 1.3238
OANDA’s Open Positions Ratio
GBP/USD ratio is unchanged in the Friday session. Currently, long positions have a majority (59%), indicative of trader bias towards GBP/USD breaking out and moving upwards.