• Pound Sterling vs US Dollar recovers to trade back above 1.2500 ahead of the key Federal Reserve policy meeting.
  • A dovish hike could see further gains for GBP/USD and a re-test of the 2023 highs at 1.2583. 
  • The technical picture remains overall bullish as price consolidates within a longer-term uptrend. 

The Pound Sterling (GBP) temporarily bounces back above the 1.2500 handle against the US Dollar (USD) during the European session on Wednesday. The main event risk on the horizon for GBP/USD is the Federal Reserve (Fed) monetary policy meeting, with the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) deciding the Fed Funds Rate. The FOMC meeting is set to conclude at 18:00 GMT and is likely to inject some volatility into US Dollar pairs.

From a technical perspective, GBP/USD continues to trade in a range within a broader bullish trend which began ever since the printing of the September lows. Longs are, therefore, favored over shorts. 

GBP/USD market movers

  • Market expectations have crystallized for a 25 bps interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve (Fed) at its FOMC meeting on Wednesday. 
  • According to Feds Funds Futures data, the probabilities for a quarter percent hike now stand at 87% – slightly down from Tuesday’s 97% but still relatively high. 
  • Higher-than-expected PCE inflation data – the Federal Reserve’s preferred inflation gauge –  reflected in last week’s data, showed prices remain sticky in the United States, further suggesting the Fed needs to continue hiking rates.
  • Banking crisis fears, partly as a result of the stress put on regional banks by the impact of higher interest rates on the US Treasury bond market, are viewed as a counterargument to the Fed hiking rates further. 
  • The US Dollar may see fluctuations depending on the tone of the Fed’s accompanying policy statement, especially if it suggests May’s hike is a ‘one and done’. 
  • There is a small chance the Fed may not hike at all if it assesses the risks to the banking system are still too great.
  • That said, GBP is supported after data for March continued to show UK inflation above 10% for the seventh consecutive month. 
  • This suggests the Bank of England (BoE) is far from done with hiking interest rates in the UK, 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. 
  • GBP also gains underpinning support from a 0.5% MoM rise in UK house prices in April when a negative figure had been expected, according to data provided by the UK’s biggest mortgage lender, Nationwide.  
  • Data from the Commodity Futures Trading Commision (CFTC) shows speculative investor flows have become increasingly supportive of the Pound Sterling over recent weeks, with non-commercial traders increasing their long bets above those of commercial traders who have been increasing short bets. 
  • JOLTS Job Openings data for March weighed on the US Dollar, on Tuesday, after showing an unexpected fall in openings to 9.59M when 9.78M had been expected, and 9.97M noted in February. Cracks in the job market are the first sign of recession. 

GBP/USD technical analysis: Sideways in an uptrend

GBP/USD has been in an extended sideways range within a broader uptrend that began at the September 2022 lows. Despite the volatile ups and downs of recent months, the pair did manage to make new highs in the upper 1.25s in late April and the overall trend remains marginally bullish. Thus, Pound Sterling longs are favored over shorts. 

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GBP/USD: Daily Chart

A two-bar bearish reversal pattern formed at the recent highs on April 28 and May 1. Two-bar reversals are fairly reliable patterns which occur when a long green full-bodied candle that makes new highs is immediately followed by a long red-down candle of a similar length – as happened on Friday, April 28 and Monday, May 1. 

The pattern was followed by a bearish day on Tuesday, May 2 and dependent on other factors such as the outcome of the FOMC meeting, could signal further downside. Two-bar reversals, however, are only very short-term bearish signals.

If more downside follows, it could see GBP/USD retest the 1.2350 April-range lows. 

Given the dominant trend remains bullish-to-sideways, however, pressure to the upside is likely to re-emerge eventually, and could see the price recover and rally before breaking to fresh highs. This may even happen sooner than expected depending on Wednesday’s Federal Reserve meeting outcome. 

If Pound Sterling bulls take over again, a decisive break above the year-to-date 1.2583 highs of April 28, would probably lead to a continuation higher to the next key resistance level at circa 1.2680. 

Decisive breaks are usually characterized by moves that begin with a strong green daily bar that breaks above the ceiling level or key high, with price closing near the highs of the day. Alternatively, three consecutive green bars above the ceiling level can also confirm breakouts. Such insignia provide confirmation that the break is not a ‘false break’ or bull trap. 

Pound Sterling FAQs

What is the Pound Sterling?

The Pound Sterling (GBP) is the oldest currency in the world (886 AD) and the official currency of the United Kingdom. It is the fourth most traded unit for foreign exchange (FX) in the world, accounting for 12% of all transactions, averaging $630 billion a day, according to 2022 data.
Its key trading pairs are GBP/USD, aka ‘Cable’, which < href=””>accounts for 11% of FX, GBP/JPY, or the ‘Dragon’ as it is known by traders (3%), and EUR/GBP (2%). The Pound Sterling is issued by the Bank of England (BoE).

How do the decisions of the Bank of England impact on the Pound Sterling?

The single most important factor influencing the value of the Pound Sterling is monetary policy decided by the Bank of England. The BoE bases its decisions on whether it has achieved its primary goal of “price stability” – a steady inflation rate of around 2%. Its primary tool for achieving this is the adjustment of interest rates.
When inflation is too high, the BoE will try to rein it in by raising interest rates, making it more expensive for people and businesses to access credit. This is generally positive for GBP, as higher interest rates make the UK a more attractive place for global investors to park their money.
When inflation falls too low it is a sign economic growth is slowing. In this scenario, the BoE will consider lowering interest rates to cheapen credit so businesses will borrow more to invest in growth-generating projects.

How does economic data influence the value of the Pound?

Data releases gauge the health of the economy and can impact the value of the Pound Sterling. Indicators such as GDP, Manufacturing and Services PMIs, and employment can all influence the direction of the GBP.
A strong economy is good for Sterling. Not only does it attract more foreign investment but it may encourage the BoE to put up interest rates, which will directly strengthen GBP. Otherwise, if economic data is weak, the Pound Sterling is likely to fall.

How does the Trade Balance impact the Pound?

Another significant data release for the Pound Sterling is the Trade Balance. This indicator measures the difference between what a country earns from its exports and what it spends on imports over a given period.
If a country produces highly sought-after exports, its currency will benefit purely from the extra demand created from foreign buyers seeking to purchase these goods. Therefore, a positive net Trade Balance strengthens a currency and vice versa for a negative balance.