Pound Sterling turns subdued as focus shifts to UK Retail Sales data


  • Pound Sterling faces pressure near 1.2700 despite hopes of an early rate cut by the BoE have waned.
  • UK Inflation remains stubbornly high due to higher fuel costs and seasonal airfare prices.
  • Investors await the UK Retail Sales data for further guidance.

The Pound Sterling (GBP) grinds between risk-off market mood and stubbornly high UK Consumer Price Index (CPI) data for December. High UK inflation data has pushed back expectations of early rate cuts by the Bank of England (BoE). The GBP/USD pair is expected to witness more upside as investors hope that the Federal Reserve (Fed) will start reducing interest rates earlier than the BoE. 

BoE policymakers are expected to remain on their toes as the UK economic outlook is vulnerable and price pressures are significantly stubborn. Going forward, the Pound Sterling will be guided by the Retail Sales data for December, which is set to be released on Friday. Upbeat consumer spending data would further diminish hopes of an early rate cut by the BoE.

Daily Digest Market Movers: Pound Sterling falls back as market mood turns downbeat

  • Pound Sterling recovery stalls after climbing to near the round-number-level resistance of 1.2700.
  • The broader appeal has not been impacted as investors see no early discussions from Bank of England policymakers about interest rate cuts. This comes after consumer price inflation in the United Kingdom economy remained stubbornly higher in December. 
  • The UK inflation remained surprisingly sticky, prompted by higher fuel prices, a slight rise in service inflation and an increase in seasonal airfares.
  • Annual headline inflation grew strongly by 4.0% against 3.9% increase in November while market participants projected a deceleration to 3.8%. 
  • In the same period, the core inflation – that strips out volatile food and Oil prices – remained sticky at 5.1%. Investors had anticipated 4.9%.
  • The consumer price inflation remains higher despite the BoE maintaining interest rates at elevated levels. This is expected to discourage BoE policymakers from endorsing interest rate cuts in the near-term.
  • Investors should note that the economic outlook of the UK economy is vulnerable and fears of a technical recession are high. 
  • As per the revised estimate from the UK Office for National Statistics (ONS), the British economy shrank by 0.1% in the third quarter of 2023 and is not expected to deliver any sort of growth in the final quarter of 2024.
  • It would be challenging for BoE policymakers to decide on whether to adopt a dovish approach to avoid a technical recession or maintain a restrictive monetary policy stance.
  • Going forward, market participants will focus on UK Retail Sales for December, which will be published on Friday.
  • Monthly Retail Sales will have contracted by 0.5% after increasing at a robust pace of 1.3% in November, as per estimates. Annual consumer spending is to have risen by 1.1% against a slight increase of 0.1% in November.
  • Investors anticipate that annual Retail Sales excluding fuel prices grew by 1.3% versus. former reading of 0.3%.
  • Meanwhile, the US Dollar Index (DXY) has rebounded to near 103.60 as investors' risk-appetiet is easing. The USD Index is expected to continue its upside journey as trades pare bets supporting a rate cut from the Federal Reserve (Fed) in March. 
  • Going forward, action in the FX domain will be guided by guidance from Federal Reserve policymakers on interest rates. Fed policymakers are consistently endorsing a restrictive interest rate stance amid lack of confidence among investors that inflation will progressively return to the 2% target in a sustainable manner.

Technical Analysis: Pound Sterling faces pressure around 1.2700

Pound Sterling has delivered a sharp recovery to near 1.2700 after discovering strong buying interest around a fresh monthly low of 1.2600. The GBP/USD pair recovered sharply after testing the 50-day Exponential Moving Average (EMA), which oscillates around 1.2620. However, the Cable is struggling to shift auction above the 20-day EMA, which trades around 1.2700. 

The 14-period Relative Strength Index (RSI) has shifted into the 40.00-60.00 range, which indicates a listless performance.

Interest rates FAQs

What are interest rates?

Interest rates are charged by financial institutions on loans to borrowers and are paid as interest to savers and depositors. They are influenced by base lending rates, which are set by central banks in response to changes in the economy. Central banks normally have a mandate to ensure price stability, which in most cases means targeting a core inflation rate of around 2%.
If inflation falls below target the central bank may cut base lending rates, with a view to stimulating lending and boosting the economy. If inflation rises substantially above 2% it normally results in the central bank raising base lending rates in an attempt to lower inflation.

How do interest rates impact currencies?

Higher interest rates generally help strengthen a country’s currency as they make it a more attractive place for global investors to park their money.

How do interest rates influence the price of Gold?

Higher interest rates overall weigh on the price of Gold because they increase the opportunity cost of holding Gold instead of investing in an interest-bearing asset or placing cash in the bank.
If interest rates are high that usually pushes up the price of the US Dollar (USD), and since Gold is priced in Dollars, this has the effect of lowering the price of Gold.

What is the Fed Funds rate?

The Fed funds rate is the overnight rate at which US banks lend to each other. It is the oft-quoted headline rate set by the Federal Reserve at its FOMC meetings. It is set as a range, for example 4.75%-5.00%, though the upper limit (in that case 5.00%) is the quoted figure.
Market expectations for future Fed funds rate are tracked by the CME FedWatch tool, which shapes how many financial markets behave in anticipation of future Federal Reserve monetary policy decisions.

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