NEW YORK (Reuters) – The dollar drifted higher against a basket of currencies in choppy trading on Thursday while the euro fell as risk appetite dimmed once again with stocks volatile and investors buying U.S. Treasuries.
Earlier in the session, the greenback slid in the wake of weaker-than-expected U.S. jobless claims data that raised concerns about the world’s largest economy’s recovery from the pandemic.
The euro, on the other hand, was firmer earlier in the day after the European Central Bank met expectations by pledging to keep interest rates at record lows for even longer.
ECB President Christine Lagarde, in her media briefing, did not say anything to change the market’s cautious outlook on the euro zone. She said a fresh wave of the coronavirus pandemic could pose a risk to the region’s recovery, although she did offer a more balanced economic outlook.
“The euro/dollar’s 30-point pop higher during Christine Lagarde’s press conference seemed appropriate in light of some of the dovish narratives coming into the meeting, but the market has now given up this move and is trading back to where it started this morning,” said Erik Bregar, head of FX strategy at Exchange Bank of Canada in Toronto.
The ECB’s dovish pivot – which follows its recently released strategy review – at a time when many peers are mulling exiting pandemic-era stimulus is expected to keep the single European currency under pressure.
(Graphic: ECB inflation forecast annotated, )
In early afternoon trading, the euro was down 0.2% against the dollar at $1.1763. On Wednesday, it hit a 3-1/2-month low of $1.1752.
The dollar index, meanwhile, rose 0.1% to 92.87, as the impact of the softer-than-expected U.S. jobless claims data faded.
Data showed initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 51,000 to a seasonally-adjusted 419,000 for the week ended July 17, the highest level since mid-May. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast 350,000 applications for the latest week.
“These numbers provide more evidence of deceleration,” said Karl Schamotta, chief market strategist at Cambridge Global Payments in Toronto.
“In continuing to print above expectations, weekly claims are suggesting a loss of momentum in the U.S. labor market – something that could push Federal Reserve tightening plans further into the future and put further pressure on bond yields,” he added.
Elsewhere, growth-focused currencies such as the Australian dollar gained as a global risk sell-off abated further. The Aussie dollar was last up 0.2% at US$0.7372.
The gains in higher-risk assets come after robust company earnings lifted Wall Street and European bourses, allowing investors to look past concerns that the Delta Covid-19 variant would dampen the economic recovery.
Sterling firmed 0.2% to $1.3768, recovering from 5-1/2-month troughs, while in cryptocurrencies, bitcoin rose after Wednesday’s 7.9% jump – the biggest since mid-June. It was last up 0.9% at $32,448.
The dollar slipped 0.1% against the yen, another safe haven, to 110.14 yen.
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