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Currency slips against firm dollar, awaits UK retail sales data

The dollar was higher against most major currencies after the minutes of the Federal Reserve's April meeting rekindled expectations the Fed would raise U.S. interest rates in June.

Pounds Sterling

Sterling eased against a strong dollar on Thursday, giving up some of its gains from Wednesday, when a poll showed support was growing for Britain to remain a member of the European Union.

Traders will now wait for British retail sales data at 0830 GMT, and a disappointing number could weaken sterling further. Forecasts are that retail sales rose 0.5 percent in April from a month ago, leaving them 2.5 percent higher annually.

Sterling was 0.1 percent lower at $1.4585, having struck a two-week high of $1.4634 on Wednesday. The euro was up at 76.90 pence, holding just above a three-month low of 76.83 pence struck on Wednesday.

"A softer retail sales report today may trigger a correction," said Viraj Patel, a currency strategist at ING. Two-year swap rate differentials between the United States and Britain have widened and the pound was likely to ease further, he said.

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Sterling had soared on Wednesday after the Ipsos-Mori poll, found 55 percent of those surveyed supported staying in the EU and just 37 percent wanted to leave. Earlier, a YouGov poll showed the "In" camp with a four-point lead .

According to betting website Betfair, the implied probability that Britain would vote to remain an EU member in its referendum on June 23 was around 75 percent, compared with less than 70 percent late last week.

Worries about a possible Brexit have weighed on the pound since late last year, driving an 8 percent decline in the past six months on a trade-weighted basis. But since hitting a 2 1/2-year low last month, sterling has recovered by almost 4 percent.

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