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Forex News: Pound Strengthens As U.K. Jobless Rate Falls To

Pound Strengthens As U.K. Jobless Rate Falls To 42-year Low

03/21/2018 - 06:56:00 (RTTNews)

(RTTNews) - The pound climbed against its major counterparts in the European session on Wednesday, as the U.K. jobless rate fell to the lowest since 1975 and the employment rate rose to a record high, supporting expectations for a Bank of England rate hike in May.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics showed that the ILO unemployment rate eased to 4.3 percent from 4.4 percent in the three months to December. Economists had expected it remain unchanged at 4.4 percent. The rate was 4.3 percent in the August to October 2017 period.

The employment rate was 75.3 percent in the November to January period, the joint highest since comparable records began in 1971. A year ago, the rate was 74.6 percent. In the September to November 2017 period, the rate was 75.3 percent.

The average weekly earnings including bonus increased 2.8 percent year-on-year in the three months to January, which was higher than the 2.7 percent in the October to December period. Economists had expected 2.6 percent.

Meanwhile, investors await the Federal Reserve's monetary policy decision for clues about the outlook for future rate hikes.

The Fed is widely expected to hike interest rates for the first time this year by 25 basis points when it concludes its two-day policy meeting later in the day.

The Bank of England's interest rate decision is due on Thursday, with traders expecting it to keep interest rates and asset-purchase program unchanged. Investors await more clues regarding whether a May rate hike is on cards.

The currency fell against its major rivals in the Asian session, with the exception of the euro.

The pound strengthened to 0.8725 against the euro, its highest since February 1. The pair finished Tuesday's trading at 0.8745. On the upside, 0.86 is likely seen as the next resistance level for the pound.

Reversing from an early low of 148.95 against the yen, the pound advanced to 149.61. The pound is seen finding resistance around the 153.00 level

The pound firmed to a 2-day high of 1.4075 against the dollar, after having fallen to 1.3997 at 5:00 pm ET. The next possible resistance for the pound is seen around the 1.43 level.

The U.K. currency spiked up to near a 2-month high of 1.3427 against the Swiss franc, from a low of 1.3365 hit at 4:45 am ET. Next key resistance for the pound is likely seen around the 1.37 level.

Looking ahead, U.S. current account data for the fourth quarter and existing home sales for February are scheduled for release in the New York session.

At 2:00 pm ET, the Fed announces decision on interest rate. Economists widely expect the Fed to raise benchmark rate by 25 basis points to 1.75 percent from the current 1.50 percent.

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