Pound Sterling Establishes Foothold Above 1.2600 Before Nonfarm Payrolls

The Pound Sterling (GBP) finally established a foothold above the 1.2600 handles against the US Dollar (USD) ahead of the Nonfarm Payrolls (NFP) release on Friday. The Pound Sterling benefits from the UK monetary policy divergence with the US, the after-effects of positive UK PMI data, and early local election results to climb to fresh year-to-date highs. The US Dollar retreats, meanwhile, on renewed banking crisis fears as more regional lenders flag concerns. 

From a technical perspective, GBP/USD continues to make new highs in a broadly bullish long-term uptrend. Given the adage that “the trend is your friend,” longs are favored over shorts. 

GBP/USD Market Movers

  • The Pound Sterling is profiting from outflows from the US Dollar and the Euro as the US Federal Reserve (Fed) and European Central Bank (ECB) are seen as having reached or nearly having gone (in the case of the ECB) peak interest rates in the current hiking cycle. 
  • With data showing UK inflation above 10% for the seventh consecutive month, robust PMI data, and a recent uptick in house prices, those inflationary forces do not look like they are about to ebb away. 
  • This suggests the Bank of England (BoE), unlike its counterparts, is far from done with hiking interest rates and may have to hike more than once to get inflation back under control. If so, this is a medium-term bullish factor for Pound Sterling. 
  • Following Thursday’s Bank of England (BoE) monetary policy meeting could be a key driver as it will reveal the BoE’s intent regarding future policy trajectory. If it is particularly hawkish, it will highlight this divergence with the Fed and increase flows to Pound Sterling. 
  • Some see the so-far poor performance of the Conservative government in local elections as a factor aiding the Pound Sterling as it could indicate a government change at the next general election. The Pound Sterling declined to historic lows under the mismanagement of the economy by previous Prime Minister Lizz Truss and her Chancellor Kwazi Kwarteng, leading to a loss of faith in the Conservative party as a safe pair of hands when it comes to the economy.
  • UK S&P Global Services PMI out on Thursday showed a higher-than-expected result of 55.9 versus the 54.9 no-change forecasts. Construction PMI out on Friday also beat expectations, coming out at 51.1 versus the 50.7 of the previous month. This suggests inflation will continue to rise in the UK, and the Bank of England (BoE) must do substantially more to combat it.
  • The US Dollar is suffering after renewed banking crisis fears in the US. On the back of the news, two more regional banks, PacWest and Western Alliance, are in trouble, with the latter announcing that it is exploring strategic options, including a potential sale of all or part of its business. 
  • The Nonfarm Payrolls release out at 12:30 GMT on Friday could be a primary mover for the US Dollar as it will reveal the health of the jobs market and act as an acid test for Powell’s hawkish rhetoric at the recent FOMC press conference, in which he said the labor market in the US remained “tight.” 
  • A below-expectations result (i.e., below 150K) would hurt the US Dollar and see GBP/USD rally higher – a higher-than-expected result (more than 200K) would see the US Dollar rally and the Cable decline.

GBP/USD Technical Analysis: Pushing To New Highs

GBP/USD has pushed to new year-to-date highs above 1.2600 overnight, extending the established uptrend that began at the September 2022 lows. The overall trend remains bullish, favoring Pound Sterling longs over shorts. 

It is still difficult to determine whether the recent break above the 1.2593 April 28 highs can be classed as ‘decisive’ and indicative of further gains. If Friday ends on a solid bullish close near its highs, it will suggest the break has been decisive, as it will complete three bullish green-up days in a row that have, in the aggregate, breached the April resistance highs. This would suggest the break is not ‘false’ or a bull trap and embolden bulls to push higher. A weak close, however, will doubt the validity of the breakout and could lead to declines. 

If the breakout is decisive and the price runs higher, the following critical resistance level at circa 1.2680 provides an upside target for the pair. 

Decisive breaks are usually characterized by moves that begin with a solid green daily bar that breaks above the ceiling level or key resistance high in question. Such intervals may be completed by a single long-green bar with the price closing near the day’s highs or three consecutive green bars that break higher. Such insignia confirm that the break is not a ‘false break’ or bull trap. 

The Relative Strength Index (RSI) remains below the overbought level and creeps higher, breaking the slight bearish divergence of recent days. This is a mildly supportive sign for the pair and may be indicative of further gains to come.

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