- The pound rose against the U.S. dollar on Friday, supported by the release of strong U.K. retail sales data, while investors eyed upcoming U.S. economic reports to be published later in the trading session.

GBP/USD hit 1.6446 during European morning trade, the pair''s highest since January 14; the pair subsequently consolidated at 1.6436, climbing 0.50%.

Cable was likely to find support at 1.6273, the low of December 18 and resistance at 1.6508, the high of January 13.

Official data showed that U.K. retail sales increased by 2.6% in December, far more than the expected 0.4% rise. Retail sales in November were revised down to a 0.1% rise from a previously estimated 0.3% gain.

Meanwhile, the greenback remained under pressure after the Department of Labor on Thursday said the number of people filing continuing unemployment claims rose back over three million to 3.03 million, up from 2.85 million, in the week to January 4.

U.S. employment data is being closely watched by investors since the latest nonfarm payrolls report showed that the economy added just 74,000 news jobs last month, well below expectations for 196,000.

However, the number of initial jobless claims fell by 2,000 last week to a six-week low of 326,000.

Sterling was also higher against the euro, with EUR/GBP retreating 0.70% to 0.8271.

Later in the day, the U.S. was to release the preliminary reading of the University of Michigan consumer sentiment index, as well as data on building permits, housing starts and industrial production.

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