The British pound remains under pressure. In the North American session, GBP/USD is trading at 1.2055, unchanged the day. The pound fell as low as 1.2007 in the Asian session, just above the symbolic 1.20 line.
UK wage growth remains high
The economic outlook in the UK is grim and today’s employment report didn’t bring any cheer. Unemployment claims continue to fall and the labour market remains strong, but wage growth indicates trouble. Wages dropped to 5.1% in June, down from 6.4% in May. However, real wages (adjusted for inflation) actually fell by 3% in Q2 on an annualized basis, a new record. The cost of living is thus increasing at an even faster rate and is far outpacing wage growth.
The headline wage growth reading of 5.1%, which is not adjusted for inflation, may have fallen, but still remains high and will likely force the BoE to continue hiking aggressively. The BoE has forecast that inflation will hit a staggering 13% this year, and the last thing it needs to contend with is a wage-price spiral, which could entrench inflation.
The markets won’t have much time to dwell on the employment numbers, with the inflation report being released on Wednesday. Headline CPI is expected to accelerate to 9.8% in July, up from 9.4% in June. If inflation pushes higher than the estimate, it could be a nasty day for the pound.
The Federal Reserve continues to send out the message that its rate hikes are far from over as the battle against inflation will continue for some time yet. The markets expect the Fed to raise rates to a peak in a range of 3.50% – 3.75%, well above the current benchmark rate of 2.50%. Despite this hawkish stance, the financial markets don’t seem to be listening. US equity markets have been rising, while the US dollar, which should be benefitting from a hawkish Fed, is struggling. The lower-than-expected July inflation report of 8.5% raised risk sentiment and sent the dollar tumbling. If inflation resumes its upward trend in August, risk appetite could evaporate and the dollar might have the last laugh.
- GBP/USD is testing support at 1.2030. Below, there is support at 1.1925
- There is resistance at 1.2153 and 1.2258