The British pound is in positive territory on Wednesday. This follows an abysmal 5-day slide which saw the pound fall as much as 600 points. In the North American session, GBP/USD is trading at 1.2060, up 0.53% on the day.
FOMC expected to deliver 75-bp salvo
All eyes are on the Federal Reserve, with the FOMC rate decision later today. The Fed is clearly under pressure as inflation surges with no peak in sight – CPI accelerated to 8.6% in April, up from 8.3% in March. This was the highest inflation rate since 1981. The Fed’s aggressive stance may shift into overdrive, with a 75-bp hike priced in by the markets at almost 100%. Just a few days ago, the most likely scenario was a 50-bps increase, but hawkish winds are blowing, and a 75-bp move will likely elicit a sharp response from the financial markets. Investors will also be closely monitoring the rate statement and Fed Chair Powell’s press conference. I would not be surprised to see the US dollar cash in with strong gains following today’s meeting.
The Fed finds itself in a tough spot as it struggles to combat inflationary pressures, which are now more than four times higher than the Fed’s inflation target of 2 per cent. The price for the Fed’s aggressive rate-hike cycle could well be a recession, but Fed policy makers clearly prefer a (hopefully) short recession rather than inflation expectations becoming unanchored. The big question is will the Fed manage to guide the US economy to a soft landing as it continues to aggressively raise rates.
BoE expected to hike by 25bp
After the Fed is done, attention will shift to the Bank of England, which holds its policy meeting on Thursday. The likely scenario is that the cautious BoE will raise rates by a modest 25 bps, but we could see a larger hike if the Fed is overly hawkish at its meeting. With unemployment in the UK at a low level of 3.7%, the BoE has room to be more aggressive with its monetary policy. As for the British pound, a 0.25% hike won’t be of much help. If the BoE surprises with a larger rate increase, the pound would likely respond with gains.
- GBP/USD faces resistance at 1.2108 and 1.2215
- There is support at 1.1916. This is followed by 1.1772, a major support level.
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