- The pound held steady against the U.S. dollar on Thursday, hovering near five-year highs after the release of upbeat U.S. jobless claims data and as the Bank of England kept monetary policy on hold.

GBP/USD hit 1.6974 during U.S. morning trade, the session high; the pair subsequently consolidated at 1.6955, easing up 0.01%.

Cable was likely to find support at 1.6866, the low of May 6 and resistance at 1.6996, the high of May 6 and an almost five-year high.

The U.S. Department of Labor said the number of individuals filing for initial jobless benefits in the week ending May 3 fell by 26,000 to 319,000 from the previous week’s revised total of 345,000. Analysts had expected jobless claims to fall by 20,000 to 325,000 last week.

Earlier Thursday, The BoE’s Monetary Policy Committee voted to keep interest rates on hold at their current record low of 0.5%. The bank also made no change in its quantitative easing program, which remains at £375 billion.

The BoE will publish the minutes of this month’s meeting on Wednesday, May 21.

Expectations for a U.K. rate hike in the early part of next year have propelled sterling to multi-year highs against the dollar, after a recent string of strong economic reports indicated that the recovery is deepening.

Early last week BoE Governor Mark Carney said the U.K. recovery is starting to broaden, but added that the bank still sees plenty of slack in the labor market.

Data released earlier Thursday showed that U.K. house prices fell 0.2% last month, mortgage lender Halifax reported, and rose 8.5% in the three months to April, compared to the same period a year earlier, slowing from an increase of 8.5% in the three months to March.

Sterling was higher against the euro, with EUR/GBP shedding 0.40% to 0.8172.

Also Thursday, the European Central Bank held its benchmark interest rate at a record low 0.25%, in line with expectations.

Speaking at the ECB’s post-policy meeting press conference, Mario Draghi said that the central bank will continue to monitor developments closely and will consider all instruments available to support growth. He added that ECB is ready to act swiftly if further easing is needed.

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