LONDON, March 23 (Reuters) - Sterling hit a one-month high against the dollar on Thursday, after UK retail sales data came in much higher than expected, soothing worries about weakening consumer sentiment in Britain as it prepares to leave the European Union.
Sales volumes in February rose by 1.4 percent from January, beating the 0.4 percent increase forecast by a Reuters poll of economists and reversing three consecutive monthly declines.
The pound, trading at $1.2478 ahead of the release, hit $1.2522 after the data, its highest since Feb. 24.
It was also up 0.4 percent on the day at 86.11 pence per euro.
Britain’s FTSE 100 turned negative and was last down 0.2 percent after the data.
British government bond futures also turned negative, shedding about 15 ticks. They last stood at 126.81, down 13 ticks on the day.
“The concerns about the UK economy are overdone,” said Nick Gartside, international chief investment officer for fixed income at JPMorgan Asset Management. “You look at the CPI release on Tuesday, you look at the retail numbers today and it does feel like the Bank of England can begin to think about raising rates. Why shouldn’t it?” (Reporting by Ritvik Carvalho, Patrick Graham, Helen Reid and Andy Bruce, editing by Nigel Stephenson)