The UK PMI manufacturing index was lower than expected with a decline to 54.6 for February from a revised 55.7 the previous month.
The index remained above the long-term average and overall confidence remained firm with further gains in employment while inflation pressures remained strong. The net consumer lending, money supply and mortgage approvals releases were all stronger than expected, but Sterling came under renewed selling after the PMI data with a retreat to below 1.2350.
Wider US strength subsequently pushed the pair to 6-week lows below the 1.2300 level while the Euro strengthened to 0.8580. The government lost an Article 50 Amendment vote in the House of Lords over guaranteeing the rights of EU citizens in the UK. Although there will be expectations that the vote will be over-ruled in the House of Commons, there was some negative impact on Sterling sentiment and the UK currency remained firmly on the defensive on Thursday.