GBP/USD continues to lose ground this week. In the North American session, the pair is trading at 1.2917, down 0.32% on the day. On the release front, the U.K. released key employment numbers. Wage growth slowed to 3.2% in March, down from 3.5% a month earlier. This missed the estimate of 3.4% and was the lowest gain since September. The unemployment rate sparkled in March, dropping to 3.8%. This beat the estimate of 3.9%. Unemployment claims fell to 24.7 thousand in April, down from 28.3 thousand in March. Still, this was above the forecast of 24.2 thousand. There are no major U.S. events on the schedule. The U.S. will post retail sales and the Empire State manufacturing index.
The pound continues to stumble, as nervous investors are snapping up the safe-haven greenback due to rising trade tensions between the U.S. and China. On Friday, the U.S. raised tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods, from 10% to 25%. The move was announced a week ago, triggering sharp declines in the equity markets. The Chinese response was vigorous, with Bejing announcing on Monday that it would slap tariffs on $60 billion of U.S products. Despite the rise in tensions between China and the U.S., the new tariffs do not take effect immediately. The U.S. tariffs do not apply to Chinese goods that are in transit, and the shipping of goods across the Pacific can take up to three weeks. The Chinese tariffs do not kick in until June. This hiatus gives negotiators some breathing room before the tariffs take effect.
Brexit may have been pushed off until October, but confusion and uncertainty over Britain’s departure from the EU remain. Prime Minister May, stymied by parliament in three attempts to pass a Brexit withdrawal bill, is now trying to reach an agreement with Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn in order to win approval for a withdrawal bill. However, this could prove to be a dead end for the embattled May. Corbyn is insisting on a customs union with the EU, which is anathema to many Conservative lawmakers, who fear such an arrangement will tie the U.K. to the EU for an indefinite period.