The GBP/USD pair builds on the previous day's strong move up and scales higher for the second successive day on Friday. The pair, however, retreats a few pips from the daily peak touched during the early part of the European session and is currently placed around the 1.2135-1.2130 region, still up over 0.20% for the day.
Expectations that the Federal Reserve will adopt a less hawkish stance in the wake of worsening economic conditions exert heavy downward pressure on the US Dollar, which, in turn, lends support to the GBP/USD pair. Last week's collapse of two mid-size US banks - Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank - forced investors to scale back bets for more aggressive policy tightening by the US central bank. In fact, the markets are now pricing in a nearly 90% chance of a smaller 25 bps lift-off the upcoming FOMC meeting on March 21-22, which, along with signs of stability in the financial markets, weigh on the safe-haven Greenback.
Multi-billion-dollar lifelines for troubled banks in the US and Europe ease fears about widespread contagion. This, in turn, boosts investors' confidence, which is evident from a modest recovery in the equity markets. That said, persistent worries about a full-blown global banking crisis keep a lid on the optimism. Furthermore, the Bank of England's (BoE) quarterly survey showed that the median UK public's expectations for inflation for the coming year dropped sharply in February. This reaffirms bets that the Bank of England (BoE) will pause its rate-hiking cycle next week and contributes to capping the GBP/USD pair.
Market participants now look to the release of the Michigan US Consumer Sentiment Index for short-term opportunities later during the early North American session on Friday. The focus, however, will remain on the key central bank event risks next week - the outcome of the highly-anticipated FOMC policy meeting, scheduled to be announced next Wednesday, followed by the BoE policy meeting on Thursday. Nevertheless, the GBP/USD pair seems poised to register modest weekly gains and remains at the mercy of the USD price dynamics.
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