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Dollar gains for fifth straight session on solid labor data


Dollar up for fifth straight session as labor data firm By Reuters

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Published Jan 18, 2024 01:04
Updated Jan 18, 2024 16:11

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: U.S. Dollar banknotes are seen in this illustration taken July 17, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK (Reuters) -The dollar index rose for a fifth straight session on Thursday after labor market data showed job growth, keeping expectations for a rate cut from the Federal Reserve in check.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 16,000 to a seasonally adjusted 187,000 for the week ended Jan. 13, the lowest level since September 2022, the Labor Department said on Thursday, short of the 207,000 expectation of economists polled by Reuters.

The data followed a stronger than expected retail sales report on Wednesday.

“The market’s doing what it loves to do and squeeze people out of crowded positioning. Ever since the start of the year, everything sort of flipped,” said Erik Bregar, director, FX & precious metals risk management, at Silver Gold Bull in Toronto.

“You’ve had central bankers now push back on 2024 rate cut pricing, and I’d say on balance, economic data has been better than expected.”

The U.S. dollar index, which measures the currency against a basket of six peers, was up 0.12% at 103.45, after reaching 103.69 on Wednesday, its highest since Dec. 13. It was on track for its fifth straight session of gains, its longest streak since August.

Expectations for a cut from the Fed in March of at least 25 basis points (bps) have dipped to 55.2%, according to CME’s FedWatch Tool, down slightly from the 56.5% in the prior session and a larger decline from the 73.2% a week ago.

A separate report from the Commerce Department showed single-family homebuilding took a breather in December after a recent stretch of gains. New construction remains underpinned by a shortage of previously owned houses for sale.

Fed officials including Governor Christopher Waller this week have pushed back against expectations of an aggressive round of rate cuts, suggesting the speed and timing will be slower than market participants had initial priced in.

Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta President Raphael Bostic is scheduled to speak later on Thursday.

The dollar was roughly even against the yen at 148.13 on Wednesday after rising to 148.52 on Wednesday, its strongest since November 28.

The Bank of Japan (BOJ) is scheduled for a policy meeting on Monday and Tuesday of next week.

The euro was down 0.25% at $1.0855 after the accounts from the European Central Bank’s December meeting showed policymakers appeared fairly confident that inflation was heading back to target, but saw risks that still warranted steady policy and high borrowing costs.

Sterling was also roughly flat at $1.268, pausing after strengthening in the prior session when data showed inflation unexpectedly accelerated in December, buttressing expectations the Bank of England will be slower to cut rates than its peers.

In cryptocurrencies, bitcoin slipped 0.08% to $42,602.00.

Dollar up for fifth straight session as labor data firm

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