The British pound has been calm for most of the week and has edged lower on Thursday, trading at 1.1936 in the North American session.
Markets brace for weak UK retail sales
The UK economic calendar has been brimming all week, and Friday will be busy with retail sales and PMI reports. The markets are expecting retail sales to slow in June – headline retail sales is expected at -5.3% YoY, following the May reading of -4.7%, while the core reading is projected at -6.3% YoY, down from -5.7% in May.
With inflation rising to 9.4% YoY in June, up from 9.1%, it’s small wonder that weary consumers, pummelled by the cost-of-living crisis, are watching their pennies and cutting back on spending. This could spell trouble for the UK economy as consumer spending is a key driver of growth, and a slowdown in spending could tip the economy into recession. If the retail sales report is worse than forecast, I would expect to see the pound respond with losses.
The markets are also expecting a de-acceleration from UK PMIs for June. Manufacturing PMI is expected to slow to 52.0, down from 52.8, while Services PMI is forecast to drop to 53.0, down from 54.3. Although the estimates point to continuing expansion, with readings above 50.0, a slowdown in manufacturing or services could make investors nervous and weigh on the British pound.
The BoE has been criticized for its slow and tepid response to surging inflation, with critics pointing to the BoE’s cautious rate hiking of only 0.25% at the last four meetings, which has brought the cash rate to a rather low 1.25%. The central bank has projected that inflation will climb to 11% before peaking, which means that consumers can expect the cost-of-living crisis to get even worse before things improve. Governor Bailey has hinted that a 0.50% hike is on the table at the August meeting, and such a move would help restore the Bank’s credibility, which has been damaged in its bruising, and so far unsuccessful battle with inflation.
- GBP/USD faces resistance at 1.2018 and 1.2167
- There is support at 1.1889 and 1.1740
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