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UK retail sales preview: What to expect in GBP/USD?

FXStreet (Bali) - GBP/USD is exchanging hands at the lower end of its 2-week 1 cent range between 1.54 and 1.55, last at 1.5430, with the UK retail sales the next major event to inject volatility to the pair.

Expectations and recent trend

Expectations for UK retail sales are for 0.3% m-o-m and 4.8% y-o-y headlines. Since the major spike of 1.2% in May, the headline indicator has come without a predominant pattern, missing estimates in both July and August, when it fell by 0.2% against 0.4% exp and 0.1% vs 0.4% exp respectively, only to see a modest in-line with estimates rebound to 0.2% in September.

Views from RBS and Nomura

According to Philip Rush, European Economist at Nomura, UK volumes are set to rise by only 0.1% m-o-m in September, which would, in his view, "indicate at least a temporary slowdown from the high growth trend." Rush anticipates that "negative payback in clothing sales from a spuriously elevated August level, also consistent with this series’ recent oscillating pattern, offsets a recovery in food and household goods sales in our forecast." If realised with no revisions, Rush concludes, that "this would mark an at least temporary break below the sector’s brisk trend rise."

Meanwhile, Ross Walker, Senior UK Economist at RBS, notes: "Retail sales statistics provide an opportunity to gauge the strength of consumer demand, which we judge to be a little weaker than the City consensus and BoE policymakers do."

Walker adds: "The conventional wisdom seems to be that UK consumer demand is robust. We regard the trends in the consumer sphere as more nuanced: real-terms outturns are flattered by a near-0% price deflator. In other words, although estimates of the quantity of goods purchased look robust, the amount of money being spent is more moderate – the latter is the more relevant gauge of underlying demand and future price pressures."

Walkers notes that while "the consumer data are not weak in any absolute sense, there are hints of easing demand. A related noteworthy feature is the sharp pick-up in unsecured borrowing by households – at 7.4% y/y it is running at more than twice the rate of income growth. Some may view this as a harbinger of overheating demand, or even future financial instability. Against the backdrop of relatively modest disposable income growth, we think it is just as likely to be indicative of stretched household finances."

GBP/USD key levels for today - Watch confluences

GBP/USD has been kept in a well established range since Oct 14 above the 1.54 level, while sellers have defended successfully the walls of 1.55, with each attempt to break higher rejected quite abruptly. To break down the key levels for today, one should first consider the 3 key pillars on any range established, that is, 1.55 topside, 1.5460 as point of control (mid-point of the range), and 1.54 up to 1.5410 as the area defended by buyers.

Within today's range, we find the pivot level at 1.5435, while daily R1 resistance is in confluence with today's POC (point of control) at 1.5960, and 1.55 also coincides with the daily R2. On the downside, the 1.54/5415 support is also being backed up by the 200-hourly MA, meaning the main 3 points first observed will hold even more relevance on the confluences identified.

Beyond today's range, and considering the positioning in the chart by the Sterling (acceptance at the lower end of the range) as well as judging by the recent lackluster performance in UK retail sales, it seems to be a sensible approach to anticipate risks slightly more skewed to the downside.

Should the data confirm a bearish resolution, 1.5370/80 should be the next support (horizontal line + daily S1) to come into play, with the acceleration of price post data subject to the divergence between the actual and estimates. Past this support, exposure towards 1.5330 would be allowed, where both the daily S3 and ATR 14 meet. On the flip side, an upbeat number may see 1.5360 exposed, with acceptance above likely to then aim for 1.55.

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