GBP/USD – British Pound Shrugs off Soft Manufacturing Report, Construction PMI Next

The British pound has posted gains in the Thursday session. In North American trade, GBP/USD is trading at 1.4247, up 0.41% on the day. On the release front, British Manufacturing Production slowed to 55.3, shy of the estimate of 56.5 points. In the US, employment data was strong, as unemployment claims dropped to 230 thousand, below the forecast of 237 thousand. ISM Manufacturing PMI slowed to 59.1, but still beat the estimate of 58.7 points. ISM Manufacturing PMI slowed to 59.1, but still beat the estimate of 58.7 points. On Friday, the spotlight will be on employment numbers, with the release of wage growth, nonfarm payrolls and the unemployment rate. As well, the US releases UoM Consumer Sentiment.

Britain’s economy is expected to worsen after it departs the European Union, but any worries over the economy are not hurting the British pound, which has enjoyed a strong January. The currency has jumped 5.2% gain in January, as the USD selloff saw the dollar’s rivals post strong gains. Last week, the pound pushed above 1.43, its highest level since June 2016. On the political front, Theresa May is facing strong domestic criticism over her handling of Brexit, and there has even been talk of a no-confidence vote in parliament. For their part, the Europeans are still smarting from Britain’s decision to leave the club, and are not in a giving mood, with barely a year for the sides to reach a trade deal before the Brexit deadline in March 2019.

In the latest Brexit development, the EU has drafted guidelines regarding a transition period after Brexit until December 2020. The European proposal calls for Britain to abide by EU rules, including freedom of movement, during the transition period which would last until 2020. However, on Wednesday, Prime Minister May said that EU citizens arriving in the UK during the transition period would be subject to stricter rules than those living in the UK before Brexit takes effect in March 2019. A strong EU reaction was not late in coming, with Guy Verhofstadt, the European parliament’s Brexit coordinator, stating that the EU would not accept two sets of rights for EU citizens.

There were no major surprises from the Federal Reserve policy meeting, the final one under Janet Yellen’s watch. In the rate statement, policymakers said that they expected the economy to continue to expand at a moderate pace and that the labor market would remain strong in 2018. What caught investor’s attention was that the Fed forecast that inflation would rise this year to the Fed’s target of 2 percent. This marks an upgrade in the inflation forecast, as the December statement said that inflation was expected to “remain somewhat below 2 percent.” Higher inflation is likely to open the door to tighter monetary policy, and the Fed appears on track for three or even four rate hikes in 2018, assuming that the US economy remains strong. This policy meeting was the last under Janet Yellen, as Jerome Powell will take over as Fed chair on February 3. The slightly hawkish tone of the rate statement has raised the odds of a rate hike to 83% when the Fed next meets in March.

GBP/USD Fundamentals

Thursday (February 1)

  • 1:55 British Nationwide HPI. Estimate 0.2%. Actual 0.6%
  • 4:30 British Manufacturing PMI. Estimate 56.5. Actual 55.3
  • 7:30 US Challenger Job Cuts. Actual -2.8%
  • 8:30 US Preliminary Nonfarm Productivity. Estimate +0.8%. Actual -0.1%
  • 8:30 US Preliminary Unit Labor Costs. Estimate 0.9%. Actual 2.0%
  • 8:30 US Unemployment Claims. Estimate 237K. Actual 230K
  • 9:45 US Final Manufacturing PMI. Estimate 55.5. Actual 55.5
  • 10:00 US ISM Manufacturing PMI. Estimate 58.7. Actual 59.1
  • 10:00 US Construction Spending. Estimate 0.4%. Actual 0.7%
  • 10:00 US ISM Manufacturing Prices. Estimate 68.3. Actual 72.7
  • 10:30 US Natural Gas Storage. Estimate -102B. Actual -99B
  • All Day – US Total Vehicle Sales. Estimate 17.2M

Friday (February 2)

  • 4:30 British Construction PMI. Estimate 52.0
  • 8:30 US Average Hourly Earnings. Estimate 0.2%
  • 8:30 US Nonfarm Employment Change. Estimate 181K
  • 8:30 US Unemployment Rate. Estimate 4.1%
  • 10:00 US Revised UoM Consumer Sentiment. Estimate 95.0

*All release times are GMT

*Key events are in bold

GBP/USD for Thursday, February 1, 2018

GBP/USD February 1 at 11:55 EDT

Open: 1.4189 High: 1.4274 Low: 1.4159 Close: 1.4245

GBP/USD Technical

S1 S2 S1 R1 R2 R3
1.3901 1.4010 1.4128 1.4271 1.4346 1.4439

GBP/USD was flat in the Asian session. The pair posted gains in European trade and is moving upwards in North American trade

  • 1.4128 is providing support
  • 1.4271 is the next line of resistance

Current range: 1.4128 to 1.4271

Further levels in both directions:

  • Below: 1.4128, 1.4010, 1.3901 and 1.3809
  • Above: 1.4271, 1.4346 and 1.4439

OANDA’s Open Positions Ratio

GBP/USD ratio is unchanged in the Thursday session. Currently, short positions are showing a majority (56%), indicative of trader bias towards GBP/USD reversing directions and moving upwards.

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.