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Dollar strengthens after U.S. labor, consumer sentiment data

Dollar strengthens after U.S. labor, consumer sentiment data

By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The dollar index rose on Wednesday, bouncing back from a 2-1/2 month low after economic data showed the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell more than expected last week.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped by 24,000 to a seasonally adjusted 209,000 for the week ended Nov. 18, the Labor Department said on Wednesday, the lowest level in more than a month. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast 226,000 claims for the latest week.

Other data, however, showed orders for long-lasting U.S. manufactured goods fell more than expected in October as orders for motor vehicles and parts dropped amid strikes by the United Auto Workers (UAW) union against Detroit’s Big Three automakers.

“The fact that we are seeing a drop definitely suggests that the labor market is not cooling as quickly as markets or the Fed might have been expecting there,” said Karl Schamotta, chief market strategist at Corpay in Toronto.

“And then at the same time the fact that we have this slowdown in CapEx investment … that suggests that underlying momentum in the economy is beginning to fade so, largely still consistent with the soft landing thesis, but labor markets holding up better than expected,” Schamotta added.

Schamotta also said market participants were maintaining relatively high dollar positions before liquidity dries up before the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday.

The dollar index had fallen to its lowest level since Aug. 31 on Tuesday before rebounding after minutes from the Federal Reserve’s last meeting indicated the central bank was likely to maintain a restrictive stance on interest rates for some time, even if more rate hikes are unlikely.

The Fed minutes showed Fed officials said inflation remained well above their target but noted that rates would need to be raised only if new data showed insufficient progress on reducing price pressures.

Markets have essentially ruled out any move in rates by the Fed at its December meeting, while pricing in a better than 50% chance of a rate cut by May, according to CME’s FedWatch Tool.

The greenback extended gains after the University of Michigan’s survey of consumer sentiment showed U.S. consumers’ inflation expectations rose for a second straight month in November.

The dollar index rose 0.64% at 104.17 and was on track for its biggest one-day percentage gain since Oct 24.

The euro was down 0.42% to $1.0863. European Central Bank policymaker Mario Centeno said he expected macroeconomic conditions would lead to a reversal in the bank’s recent cycle of rate hikes in the near future.

The Japanese yen weakened 0.86% versus the greenback at 149.66 per dollar, while Sterling was last trading at $1.246, down 0.65% on the day.


(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Will Dunham)

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