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GBP/USD Price Forecast: Positive UK Retail Sales Lift the Pound Amidst Fed and BoE Rate Hike Speculations

by Onuraag Das   ·  July 21, 2023   ·  

The GBP/USD currency pair, also known as “Cable,” has been a subject of heightened market volatility as traders closely monitor economic data and anticipate rate hike decisions from both the US Federal Reserve (Fed) and the Bank of England (BoE). Recent developments in positive UK retail sales data have provided a temporary boost to the Pound, instilling confidence that the UK consumer can withstand further rate hikes amidst the ongoing battle against inflation.

At the same time, uncertainties surrounding the divergence in rate hike paths between the Fed and BoE are influencing the price movements of GBP/USD, providing short-term support for the currency pair. In this article, we will delve deeper into the significance of the recent UK retail sales data, analyze the potential impact of divergent central bank policies on Cable’s trajectory, and examine the technical outlook for GBP/USD.

UK Retail Sales Boost Confidence in UK Consumer Resilience, While Divergent Rate Hike Paths Keep Cable Supported

The recent release of UK retail sales data brought about positive surprises, showcasing a notable 4.9% year-on-year increase in retail spending for the month of June. This impressive performance surpassed market expectations and, more importantly, underscored the resilience of the UK consumer despite the prevailing economic challenges. As the Bank of England gears up for its September meeting, this encouraging retail sales print serves to reinforce the central bank’s confidence in the UK economy’s ability to weather potential rate hikes. The robust retail sales figure indicates that consumers are better equipped to handle the mounting cost of borrowing, which is a vital consideration in the central bank’s ongoing efforts to combat inflation effectively.

Source: dailyFX

Highlighting the impact of weather patterns on consumer behavior, the British Retail Consortium pointed out the surge in demand for barbeque food and garden furniture during the hottest months on record in the UK. These insights into consumer spending patterns illustrate the adaptability of UK consumers and their potential to continue contributing to economic growth despite changing circumstances.

US Labor Markets and Fed Rate Hike Speculations

Across the Atlantic, US labor data has remained strong, supporting expectations of a 25-basis-point (bps) rate hike from the Federal Reserve in its upcoming meeting. However, uncertainties persist regarding the extent of future rate increases by the Fed. Speculation surrounding the Fed’s rate hike path has generated considerable interest, with some market participants hoping for a more cautious rate increase of 10-15 bps. Historically, the Federal Reserve has favored increments of 25-50 bps, making any deviation from this conventional pattern subject to heightened market attention and potential controversy.

Depending on the Fed’s rhetoric and the outcome of the impending rate hike decision, the US Dollar could become vulnerable to further losses. This scenario might work in favor of generating further upside potential for GBP/USD, providing additional support to the Cable.

Technical Outlook and Medium-Term Prospects for GBP/USD

In recent times, GBP/USD has experienced a downward trend since reaching its Year-to-Date high on July 13. However, the recent bounce in the currency pair is a promising development as it attempts to snap a five-day losing streak. Notably, an ascending trendline is positioned below the current support level of 1.2850, potentially providing dynamic support and acting as a buffer against further downside movements.

Taking a broader view, it is possible to anticipate continued downward pressure on GBP/USD leading into the FOMC meeting and ahead of the Bank of England’s gathering in early August. Market participants are currently pricing in a pause from the Federal Reserve following the upcoming meeting, while the Bank of England seems to be preparing for at least two more rate hikes. This divergence in rate hike paths between the two central banks offers support for the medium-term outlook of GBP/USD, which could create trading opportunities for savvy investors.

GBP/USD DAILY CHART
Source: dailyFX

Traders should pay attention to any attempted pullback towards the ascending trendline, as this could generate interest among potential investors due to the convergence of different technical indicators. Importantly, the 50-day moving average is hovering around the 1.2658 level, and a daily close below the 1.2600 mark would invalidate the current bullish trend.

Conclusion

The GBP/USD currency pair has been subject to significant volatility, with recent positive UK retail sales data providing a temporary lift to the Pound. While uncertainties persist regarding the rate hike paths of the Federal Reserve and the Bank of England, GBP/USD remains supported in the short term. As traders navigate changing market dynamics, close monitoring of upcoming central bank meetings and key economic indicators will be crucial for identifying potential trading opportunities. Understanding technical levels and key indicators will also play a pivotal role in successfully navigating the fluctuations of the GBP/USD currency pair.

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