Yen Nee Lee
The number of Americans filing initial applications for unemployment benefits dropped to a 49-1/2-year low last week, pointing to sustained labor market strength that could counter fears of a sharp slowdown in economic growth. Claims have declined for four straight weeks.
The dollar was trading higher “off the back of a very low jobless claims number and fairly robust PPI numbers. Overall what you’re seeing is a shift into dollars on fading expectations for a rate cut later this year,” said Karl Schamotta, director of foreign exchange strategy and structured products at Cambridge Global Payments.
The Fed on Wednesday released the minutes from its March 19-20 meeting, at which policymakers signaled they would not raise rates in 2019.
U.S. producer prices increased by the most in five months in March, the Labor Department reported, with its producer price index for final demand rising 0.6 percent in March, lifted by a surge in the cost of gasoline. Despite the top line increase, underlying wholesale inflation was tame.
The dollar index was last up 0.22%, at 97.16, having retraced some of its earlier gains.
The euro was modestly lower against the dollar after the European Central Bank hinted it was willing to leave interest rates alone amid trade tensions and signs of flagging growth. It was last down 0.15% at $1.1256.
ECB President Mario Draghi underscored the risks facing the euro zone economy, supporting further stimulus to prevent the region from slipping into recession.
Sterling was 0.26% lower, last at $1.3055 after EU leaders extended the deadline for Britain to leave the European Union, suggesting fears remain about where Brexit is headed.
“Concern around Brexit and the ECB’s increasingly dovish stance is weighing on euro and sterling,” said Schamotta.
The advantages for sterling, as well as UK and European equities, include the removal of a near-term, no-deal Brexit. But that is offset by the prospects of UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s replacement, a general election and the threat to the UK economy of prolonged uncertainty.