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Forex - GBP/USD gains as market digests U.S. data, fiscal issues

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Shutterstock photo - The pound rose against the dollar on Thursday as investors digested stronger-than-expected data out of the U.S. coupled with building fiscal uncertainty in the world's largest economy, cautiously embracing risk.

In U.S. trading on Thursday, GBP/USD was trading at 1.6284, up 0.22%, up from a session low of 1.6240 and off from a high of 1.6296.

The pair was likely to find support at 1.6158, Monday's low, and resistance at 1.6306, Wednesday's high.

The dollar softened somewhat after solid data hit the wire in the U.S.

Official data released earlier showed that manufacturing activity in the Philadelphia-region expanded at its fastest pace in eight months in December.

The Philly Fed manufacturing index rose to 8.1 in December from -10.7 in November, compared to expectations for a reading of -3.0.

Elsewhere, the National Association of Realtors reported earlier that existing home sales rose by 5.9% to a seasonally adjusted 5.04 million units in

November, beating market calls for U.S. existing home sales to rise 2.3% to 4.87 million units.

Revised government data showed that the U.S. economy grew by an annualized 3.1% in the third quarter of this year, up from a preliminary estimates of 2.7% and also above market calls for 2.8% growth.

On the labor front, the U.S. Department of Labor reported that weekly initial jobless claims last week rose by 17,000 to 361,000, compared to expectations for an increase of 13,000 to 357,000.

Meanwhile in the U.K., retail sales came in flat in November, missing expectations for a 0.3% increase, according to national data.

Year-on-year, retail sales rose at an annualized rate of 0.9% in November also missing expectations for a 1.5% increase, after rising at a revised rate of 0.8% in the preceding month.

Soft U.K. retail sales figures and fiscal uncertainty in the U.S. dampened an otherwise risk-on trading session.

Failure to strike a budgetary agreement in the U.S. will allow sweeping tax cuts to expire at the same time deep cuts to government spending are scheduled to kick in, a combination known as a fiscal cliff that could contract the economy by 0.5% next year if Congress fails to avoid it, according to Congressional Budget Office estimates.

Both sides of the U.S. political aisle recently came close to agreeing on the role income tax hikes should play when narrowing deficits and paying down debts.

Democrats, who originally called for tax increases on incomes of over USD250,000 a year, hiked that threshold to USD400,000.

Republicans, who originally opposed any and all income tax hikes, later said they would accept raising rates on those earning a minimum USD1 million.

As of afternoon trading on Thursday, the impasse continued to drag on, which trimmed Cable's gains.

The pound, meanwhile, was up against the euro and up against the yen, with EUR/GBP trading down 0.12% at 0.8131 and GBP/JPY up 0.26% at 137.47.

On Friday, the U.S. will unveil revised data on consumer sentiment from the University of Michigan, as well as government data on personal income and spending.

The U.K. is to produce government data on the current accounts and on public sector net borrowing, in addition to revised data on third quarter growth. - offers an extensive set of professional tools for the Forex, Commodities, Futures and the Stock Market including real-time data streaming, a comprehensive economic calendar, as well as financial news and technical & fundamental analysis by in-house experts.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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