Investing.com - The pound pushed higher against the U.S. dollar on Wednesday, as the release of downbeat U.S. economic reports weighed on demand for the greenback, while strong U.K. data published earlier in the day continued to support sterling.
GBP/USD hit 1.6734 during U.S. morning trade, the pair''s highest since March 3; the pair subsequently consolidated at 1.6727, gaining 0.38%.
Cable was likely to find support at 1.6617, the low of February 27 and resistance at 1.6823, the high of February 17.
The dollar remained under pressure after data showed that service sector activity in the U.S. grew at the slowest pace since August 2010 in February.
The Institute of Supply Management said its non-manufacturing purchasing manager''s index fell to 51.6 last month from a reading of 54.0 in January. Analysts had expected the index to ease down to 53.5 in February.
A separate report showed that the U.S. private sector added 139,000 jobs in February, below expectations for an increase of 160,000.
In the U.K., the Markit services PMI for February came in at 58.2. It was the lowest reading in eight months, but was little changed from January’s reading of 58.1 and was ahead of forecasts for a decline to 58.0.
The report said jobs growth in the sector was down only slightly from January''s almost 17-year high, as new orders continued to rise at a fast clip.
“The services economy notched up yet another month of robust growth in February, a performance that is all the more remarkable given the weather related disruptions that have hit many businesses,” Chris Williamson, Chief Economist at Markit said.
“Alongside vibrant growth in manufacturing and construction, the upbeat picture of the services economy points to the country enjoying another quarter of robust economic growth of approximately 0.7%.”
Sterling was also higher against the euro, with EUR/GBP declining 0.48% to 0.8208.
In the euro zone, data earlier confirmed that the region’s services purchasing managers’ index rose to 52.6 in February, from a final reading of 51.6 in January and higher than the flash estimate of 51.7.
The rate of growth in Italy’s service sector rose to an almost three year high last month.
The upbeat data dampened expectations that the European Central Bank would tighten monetary policy at its upcoming meeting on Thursday.