Pound Sterling inches towards 1.2600 following Lagarde’s comments.

Pound Sterling vs US Dollar recovers its highs just short of 1.2600 after comments from ECB’s Lagarde after the policy meeting.GBP/USD rallied to new highs after the Federal Reserve’s decision to lifted rates by the same amount on Wednesday.

ECB’s accompanying statement highlighted evidence of persisting inflation pressures in the Eurozone.

The Pound Sterling (GBP) recovers year-to-date highs just short of 1.2600 against the US Dollar (USD) after hawkish comments from the President of the European Central Bank (ECB) Christine Lagarde on Thursday. After an initially bearish reaction to the ECB policy announcement the Euro – and Pound Sterling – recovered versus the US Dollar after Lagarde underscored the inflationary headwinds in the euro area during her press conference and the ECB’s determination not stop tightening monetary policy to fend off future price rises.

Friday’s Nonfarm Payrolls (NFP) jobs report, could further inject volatility into GBP/USD if it misses expectations (bearish for USD, bullish for GBP/USD) or comes out substantially higher (bullish for USD, bearish for GBP/USD).

From a technical perspective, GBP/USD continues to edge higher within a range, which is part of a broader bullish trend that began at the September 2022 lows. Longs are, therefore, favored over shorts. 

GBP/USD market movers

The European Central Bank (ECB) President, Christine Lagarde, stated the Governing Council had no plans to pause its monetary tightening given continued elevated risks to inflation, especially food inflation. She also announced the ECB was determined to reduce its APP bond holdings to zero, signalling the end of the reign of quantitative easing. 

Lagarde further stated that ECB policy was not tied to Fed policy which suggests the ECB will have no qualms about raising rates in the future even when the Fed has paused, thereby allowing the Euro to strengthen. 

The ECB announced a 25 bps rate hike after its policy meeting on Thursday. This raised the main refinancing operation rate, marginal lending facility and the deposit facility to 3.75%, 4% and 3.25%, respectively.

The ECB accompanying policy statement began with the following words: “The inflation outlook continues to be too high for too long.” This suggests the ECB will likely continue raising rates in the future in contrast to the Federal Reserve which has probably reached peak rate. 

The Bank Lending Survey (BLS) for Q1 showed no outsized risks to Eurozone banks due to the crisis. The report did show credit conditions had tightened, however, but no more than in Q4. 

Depositors in Europe cannot facilitate withdrawals and realocations into higher-yielding money market funds or other higher-interest-bearing vehicles as easily as in the US, suggesting the systemic risk is less this side of the Atlantic.

The Federal Reserve met market expectations for a 25 bps interest rate hike at its FOMC meeting on Wednesday, raising the Fed Funds Rate to a 5-5.25% range.

The FOMC’s accompanying statement dropped wording that “some additional policy firming may be appropriate.”, suggesting this hiking cycle may be over and triggering a USD sell-off.

Powell mentioned that the labor market is “very tight” and that though supply and demand in the labor market are coming to a better balance overall, labor demand is above supply –  a hawkish statement. 

Powell further said that continued risks to financial stability and the effect of credit tightening did not totally rule out the need for further hikes in the future, nevertheless, he said the change in the wording of the statement was “significant”.

Market guages of future rate hikes suggest a 95% probability of no future hikes from the Fed. 

Meanwhile, GBP is underpinned by data for March which 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. 

Friday sees the release of April Nonfarm Payrolls, expected to show the economy added 179K new jobs. A substantially higher-than-expected result could support USD and weigh on Cable and vice versa for a lower-than-expected print.

GBP/USD technical analysis: Sideways in an uptrend

GBP/USD trades back at its highs in the upper 1.25s after the ECB meeting and press conference on Thursday. Nevertheless, the overall trend is bullish, thus, Pound Sterling longs are generally favored over shorts. 

GBP/USD: Daily Chart

Given the dominant trend remains bullish price will probably continue breaking to fresh highs. A decisive break and close above the 1.2590 highs set on May 3, would likely 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. 

The Relative Strength Index (RSI) is showing a bearish divergence with price although it is not acute enough to draw any conclusions. The RSI at the April 28 peak of 1.2583 was higher than it was at the 1.2590 May 3 peak, suggesting the most recent acsent lacked momentum. This is indicative of mild underlying weakness. 

European Central Bank FAQs

What is the ECB and how does it influence the Euro?

The European Central Bank (ECB) in Frankfurt, Germany, is the reserve bank for the Eurozone. The ECB sets interest rates and manages monetary policy for the region.

The ECB primary mandate is to maintain price stability, which means keeping inflation at around 2%. Its primary tool for achieving this is by raising or lowering interest rates. Relatively high interest rates will usually result in a stronger Euro and vice versa.

The ECB Governing Council makes monetary policy decisions at meetings held eight times a year. Decisions are made by heads of the Eurozone national banks and six permanent members, including the President of the ECB, Christine Lagarde.

What is Quantitative Easing (QE) and how does it affect the Euro?

What is Quantitative tightening (QT) and how does it affect the Euro?

EUR/USD declines below 1.1050 after ECB event

EUR/USD has lost its traction and declined below 1.1050 on Thursday. The ECB raised its key rates by 25 bps and President Lagarde confirmed that they were not yet done with tightening. The risk-averse market environment, however, helps the USD find demand and weighs on the pair.


GBP/USD fluctuates above 1.2550 in choppy session

GBP/USD has managed to stage a rebound after having declined toward 1.2550 earlier in the session. Although the sharp decline seen in EUR/GBP pair after the ECB event helps Pound Sterling hold its ground, the souring market mood limits the pair’s upside.


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