The British pound is in negative territory in the Friday session. GBP/USD is currently trading at 1.3450, down 0.35% on the day.
Retail sales improve
UK retail sales for October surprised the markets, as the gain of 0.8% m/m was the first gain in five months. Clearly good news, but the improvement could well be due to early Christmas shopping rather than a change in the mindset of consumers, who have been slow to spend since the end of the lockdown in the summer. Consumer confidence has been weak as caution is the mantra in what has been a difficult year. On an annual basis, retail sales fell by -1.6%, which follows a read of -1.1% in September.
Inflation continues to accelerate as the “transient” narrative seems out of sync with what is happening on the ground. The UK consumer price index hit 4.2% y/y in October, above the consensus of 3.9%. The data will add to the pressure on the BoE to raise interest rates at the December policy meeting. The bank held rates at the November meeting, which shocked the markets, as Governor Andrew Bailey had sent strong hints that the bank would raise rates in order to contain inflation. The BoE is projecting inflation to go as high as 5% in early 2022 before falling lower in 2023. After being burned by the BoE, investors will be mindful about projecting a December rate hike, but it’s clear to everyone that the bank will need to raise rates shortly – if not in December, then early in the New Year.
With no tier-1 events out of the US today, the markets are focusing on President Biden’s choice for Chair of the Federal Reserve, which should be announced on the weekend. Jerome Powell was considered a strong favourite until recently, but Fed member Laura Brainard could be a surprise choice. Brainard is considered more dovish than Powell and would be expected to raise rates more slowly. If Brainard wins, we could see an immediate reaction from the markets and the US dollar could lose ground.
GBP/USD Technical Analysis
- GBP/USD has support at 1.3310. Below, there is support at 1.3206
- There is resistance at 1.3562 and 1.3710