British pound edges higher, investors eye U.K. job numbers

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The British pound has recorded gains in the Monday session. In North American trade, the GBP/USD pair is trading at 1.3266, up 0.24% on the day. On Tuesday, Bank of England Governor speaks before the Treasury Select Committee, and the U.K. will release wage growth and unemployment rolls.

New Brexit Plans
As the Brexit deadline creeps ever closer, both sides are making contingency plans for a ‘hard Brexit’, in the event that the parties fail to reach an agreement. On Thursday, the British government released a white paper, which is a blueprint for trade arrangements with the E.U. when Britain leaves the club in March 2019. The proposal suggests that the U.K. and the E.U. will enter into an “association agreement”, which maintains current agreements with regards to goods but not services. This could have a significant negative impact on London’s financial hub, which is already facing the loss of hundreds of financial jobs from London to the continent. Prime Minister May is facing strong opposition from hardliners in her cabinet, who argue that the white paper leaves the E.U. too much control over British trade policy and could hamper British trade deals. Will the Europeans buy what May is selling? E.U. policymakers are reviewing the white paper and if it is rejected, investors could get panicky and send the pound lower.


Will Fed Press the Rate Trigger in H2?
The U.S. economy is firing on all cylinders and received a vote of confidence from the head of the Federal Reserve. On Thursday, Powell said that the economy is “in a really good place”, pointing to President Trump’s massive tax cut scheme and increased spending as key factors in boosting economic growth. Powell did not address monetary policy and said he was uncertain as to the effects of the current trade disputes, which has embroiled the U.S. and its trading partners. The Fed will likely press the rate trigger in the second half of the year, but it is an open question as to whether we’ll see one hike over the next six months. The Fed is projecting growth of 2.8% in 2018, compared to 2.3% in 2017. Powell will be in the spotlight next week when he appears for his semi-annual testimony before Congress.

Trade policy is not part of the Federal Reserve’s mandate, but Fed policymakers continue to voice concern about the escalating trade war between the U.S. and its major trading partners, particularly China. On Friday, Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan said he would have to downgrade his outlook if the tariff battle continues. Kaplan said that U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum imports had dampened capital expenditures plans and further trade tensions could lead to currency fluctuations and geopolitical instability.

 

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