British pound direction hinges on jobs number

Mark Carney, the new governor of the Bank of England, placed jobless numbers center stage on Wednesday tying monetary policy to a 7% unemployment figure before it will be reviewed. With an economic recovery under way in the U.K., GBP's (FOREX:GBPUSD) bias over the short- to medium-term is likely to be upwards.

With the housing market and domestic consumption playing a key role in the U.K.'s economic recovery, if sustained, the current rate of unemployment in the U.K. is likely to fall quite quickly from the current 7.8%.

This new stance means forex markets will pay even closer attention to U.K. jobs numbers. Clusters of resistance around GBP/USD 1.5600-1.5700 may soon be challenged and even 1.6000 could be in sight by the end of the year. 

Carney mentioned the prospect of keeping the Bank of England base rate at 0.5% out until 2016, but a domestically driven recovery could see that stance reviewed sooner than that. Indeed, the Bank has recently been revising U.K. GDP forecasts upwards. Nonetheless, as Carney noted the U.K.'s recovery is the weakest on record and there is still over-capacity in the economy to be absorbed.

Bullish build up for GBP/USD


GBP rally comes with wealth warnings

However, Carney also laid out a number of caveats to this potentially rosy scenario for monetary policy. He rightly mentioned financial and price stability as important considerations.

The problem is that the U.K.'s recovery is in large part being driven by the real estate market, supported by government policy, and domestic consumption. Households still hold high levels of debt and have seen their consuming power eroded by years of below inflation pay rises.

This feeds through to the current account deficit at 3.7%, higher than it was a decade ago, and at a level, which has traditionally been bearish for GBP. Right now the forex markets aren't focusing on that and probably won't unless it starts to balloon, which would be bearish for GBP. Offsetting that is stronger U.S. growth and possible tentative signs of a Eurozone recovery, which should absorb more U.K. exports. But that can't be taken for granted.

The previous focus on exports and business investment, which has not been particularly successful, is being quietly shunted into the background as the ruling Conservative / Liberal Democrat coalition government focuses on the general election to be held by May 7, 2015.

For as long as the U.K.'s economic structural deficiencies don't bleed through to the surface the outlook for GBP is bullish, but sustaining and even fuelling existing economic imbalances is dangerous and will eventually come back to haunt GBP in a big way later on if they're not addressed by policy measures or a prolonged global economic recovery. But for now enjoy the party!

About the Author
Justin Pugsley

Justin Pugsley is the forex and gold markets analyst for New Zealand-based trading platform provider MahiFX. He is a keen student of markets, economics and history. Prior to working with MahiFX, Justin worked for a number of leading media organisations such as Thomson-Reuters and Dow Jones/Wall Street Journal.

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