The pound has continued to remain solid ahead of the full details of the chancellor's pre-budget report, with encouraging retail data helping to shore up sterling.

This morning the dollar stood at 1.7330 to the pound, while the euro was at 1.4715 to sterling.

New figures published by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) show that like-for-like retail sales are on the increase.

The BRC reported that sales in the UK during November rose 0.8 per cent in comparison to 2004 - the first since March.

Experts said that the sudden cold snap in the UK had helped usher shoppers into thigh street doors and although the figures masked medium-term stagnation over a longer period, the signs helped bolster the British currency this morning.

Brown Brothers Harriman currency analyst Chris Gothard told Reuters: "The retail sales figure has given the pound a bit of a boost."

"This report bolsters confidence in the economy that rates will stay at 4.5 per cent for longer," he added.

The news comes after disappointing signs about consumer confidence from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), with the CBI warning that high street confidence had slumped to a 22 year-low.