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Pound US dollar exchange rate: GBP/USD muted as May pushes for backstop changes

There are media reports that Theresa May will urge the EU to help her get the withdrawal agreement through Parliament next week, with hopes that the union will agree to some legally binding changes to the Irish backstop. Meanwhile, over in the US,  Federal Reserve policymaker Lael Brainard said in a speech on Thursday evening that the Fed should lower its expectations for rate hikes.

Mrs Brainard said risks of a global slowdown and a weakening economic outlook in the United States suggest there should be a “softer” path for interest rates.

She also highlighted her concerns with the slowdown in China, which she argued was reverberating throughout Europe and the US.

Yesterday, US non-farm productivity rose to a higher-than-forecast 1.9 per cent in the fourth quarter.

This led to the largest annual rise in eight years, which likely helped to buoy the dollar. 

Looking ahead to this afternoon, the US dollar could rise further against the pound following the release of the US average hourly earnings. 

February’s hourly earnings are forecast to rise from 3.2 per cent to 3.3 per cent which could provide the dollar with an upswing of support. 

One of the most highly prioritised data releases comes this afternoon in the form of US non-farm payrolls, which are forecast to rise by 180K, which would represent something of a slowdown but would still likely lend further support to the US dollar. 

Also likely to buoy the dollar is the release of the US unemployment rate, which is predicted to dip down to 3.9 per cent in February. 

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