The British pound continues to lose ground after a brutal retail sales report. The pound dropped as low as 1.1350 earlier today, its lowest level since March 2020. GBP/USD is trading at 1.1373 in the European session, down 0.73%.

UK retail sales decline

The week wrapped up on a sour note in the UK, as retail sales for August were sharply lower. The headline reading declined by 5.4% YoY, lower than the July release of -3.2% and missing the forecast of -4.2%. It was a similar story with core retail sales, which declined by 5.0%, below the July reading of -3.1% and shy of the estimate of -3.4%. On a monthly basis, retail sales slid by 1.6%, missing the consensus of -0.7% and marking the sharpest decline in eight months.

The markets were braced for a weak retail sales report and the only surprise was how sharply consumer spending is falling. The cost-of-living crisis has hammered UK consumers who are in a sour mood and are cutting on disposable spending. Wage growth has not kept up with hot inflation and a YouGov survey found that consumer confidence fell into negative territory in August for the first time since the Covid lockdown in mid-2020. The weak data is another sign that the UK economy is tipping into a recession.

The Bank of England meets on September 22nd, a day after the Fed, and is expected to hike rates by 0.75%. The current rate of 1.75% is well below the Fed and other major banks, as the BoE has been slow to tighten, despite spiraling inflation. Governor Bailey has been criticized for throwing in the towel and not doing enough to combat inflation. The BoE is playing catch-up with inflation and could raise rates up to 4.5% next year if inflation does not ease significantly.

GBP/USD Technical

  • GBP/USD is testing resistance at 1.1548. Next, there is resistance at 1.1689
  • There is support at 1.1417 and 1.1306
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