Retail sales in the U.K. rose much more strongly than expected in November, according to data released on Thursday. The Office for National Statistics said retail sales 1.6% last month, compared to forecasts for a 0.3% gain. October’s figure was revised up to 1.0% from 0.8% previously. On a year-on-year basis, retail sales jumped 6.4% beating expectations for a 4.2% gain, after rising at an upwardly revised annual rate of 4.6% in October. It was the largest annual gain since May 2004. Core retail sales, which exclude automobile sales, were up 1.7% and rose 6.9% from a year earlier. Economists had forecast a monthly increase of 0.4% and an annual gain of 4.5% GBP/USD was trading at 1.5623 from around 1.5617 ahead of the release of the data, while EUR/GBP was at 0.7875 from 0.7884 earlier. Meanwhile, European stock markets were broadly higher. London’s FTSE 100 was up 0.82%, the DJ Euro Stoxx 50 rallied 2.59%, France’s CAC 40 surged 2.42%, while Germany’s DAX added 2.16%.