GBP/USD has posted losses in Friday trade. Currently GBP/USD is trading at 1.2220. On the release front, British Services PMI dipped to 53.3, short of the estimate of 54.4 points. In the US, today’s highlight is ISM Manufacturing PMI, which is forecast to remain unchanged at 56.5 points. The markets will be listening closely as four FOMC members deliver remarks on Friday, including Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen.
Market sentiment continues to heat up regarding a Fed rate hike. Federal Reserve policymakers continue to sound hawkish about a rate move on March 15, when the Fed next meets for a policy meeting. Earlier in the week, FOMC members William Dudley and John Williams both hinted at an imminent hike by the Fed. Dudley said the case for a hike is compelling, while Williams noted that a rate increase will be up for "serious consideration" at the March policy meeting. The markets are taking these statements at face value, as the odds of a March move have increased dramatically. The likelihood of a rate move has soared to 80%, compared to 33% just a few days ago. Why the huge jump in odds? One reason is that policymakers are now saying they don’t need to wait for Donald Trump to outline tax reform or other economic packages before making a monetary move. This is a significant departure from a few weeks ago, when the Fed sent out signals that it would stay on the sidelines until it had a clearer picture of the economic stance of the new administration.
The pound’s troubles continue, as the currency has fallen 1.4 percent this week. Earlier on Friday, GBP/USD dropped to a low of 1.2214, marking its lowest level since January 17. The pound has responded negatively to this week’s key PMI reports. Manufacturing and Services PMIs both missed expectations, and Construction PMI continues to point to weak expansion. The softer Services PMI reflects more cautious spending by British consumers, who remain concerned about the ramifications of Brexit on the economy and their pocketbooks.