GBP/USD Breaks Out Amid Waning Bets for Four Fed Rate-Hikes in 2018

FX Talking Points:

GBP/USD Extends Bullish Sequence Following Lackluster Updates to U.S. Consumer Price Index (CPI). Topside Targets on the Radar as Holding Pattern Snaps.

USD/JPY Clears March Opening Range Ahead of Bank of Japan (BoJ) Minutes. Relative Strength Index (RSI) Sits at Trendline Resistance.

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GBP/USD extends the recent series of higher highs & lows as fresh data prints coming out of the U.S. economy dampen bets for four Fed rate-hikes in 2018, and the pair may continue to retrace the decline from earlier this year as it appears to be breaking out of a near-term holding pattern.

Key developments coming out of the U.S. may continue to influence the near-term outlook for GBP/USD as market attention turns to the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) interest rate decision on tap for March 21, and the fresh updates to the U.S. Consumer Price Index (CPI) may encourage Chairman Jerome Powell and Co. to deliver a dovish rate-hike especially as the core rate of inflation holds steady at an annualized 1.8% for the third consecutive month in February.

Lackluster data prints coming out of the U.S. economy may encourage a growing number of Fed officials to adopt a less-hawkish tone as ‘a couple of members expressed concern about the outlook for inflation, seeing little evidence of a meaningful improvement in the underlying trend in inflation, measures of inflation expectations, or wage growth.’ As a result, the FOMC may have little choice but to tame expectations for a more aggressive hiking-cycle as the central bank still struggles to achieve the 2% target for inflation.

With that said, topside targets are coming back on the radar for GBP/USD as it snaps the monthly range, and the broader shift in pound-dollar behavior may continue to take shape in 2018 as it appears to be breaking out of a wedge/triangle formation.

GBP/USD Daily Chart

GBP/USD Daily Chart

  • GBP/USD appears to be extending the bullish trend carried over from late last year after failing to break/close below the 1.3690 (61.8% expansion) to 1.3700 (38.2% expansion) region, with the Relative Strength Index (RSI) reflecting a similar behavior.
  • A close above 1.3970 (50% expansion) raises the risk for a move back towards the 1.4100 (100% expansion) handle, with the next topside hurdle coming in around 1.4310 (61.8% expansion) to 1.4350 (78.6% retracement), which lines up with the 2018-high (1.4346).



USD/JPY climbs to a fresh monthly-high (107.29) ahead of the Bank of Japan (BoJ) Minutes, with the pair still at risk for a more meaningful rebound as the Relative Strength Index (RSI) continues to threaten the bearish formation carried over from late last year.

The detailed account of the BoJ’s March meeting may do little to derail the recent advance in USD/JPY as Governor Haruhiko Kuroda & Co. persistently endorse a wait-and-see approach for monetary policy, and more of the same from the central bank is likely to keep dollar-yen bid especially as the Federal Reserve is widely expected to deliver a 25bp rate-hike next week. However, signs of a growing rift within the BoJ may tame the near-term advance in the exchange rate as the central bank appears to be approaching the end of its easing-cycle.

Keep in mind, failure to preserve the monthly opening range may fuel the advance from the 2018-low (105.25) as the pair breaks out of the downward trend from earlier this year, and the Relative Strength Index (RSI) may highlight a similar dynamic as the oscillator sits at trendline resistance and is on the cusp of flashing a bullish trigger.

USD/JPY Daily Chart

USD/JPY Daily Chart

  • Still waiting for a bullish RSI trigger paired with a close above the 106.70 (38.2% retracement) to 107.20 (61.8% retracement) region to favor a larger advance in USD/JPY.
  • Next topside hurdle comes in around 108.30 (61.8% retracement) to 108.40 (100% expansion) followed by the 109.40 (50% retracement) to 110.00 (78.6% expansion) area.
  • However, lack of momentum to snap the bearish RSI formation may produce range-bound conditions, with a break/close below 105.40 (50% retracement) bringing the downside targets back on the radar for USD/JPY.

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— Written by David Song, Currency Analyst

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