Dollar gains on U.S. growth rates, solid jobless claims figures

A A A - - Upbeat fourth-quarter economic growth rates coupled with better-than-expected weekly jobless claims numbers in the U.S. sent the dollar firming against most major currencies on Thursday.

In U.S. trading on Thursday, EUR/USD was down 0.26% at 1.3748.

That latest of improving U.S. economic indicators kept expectations firm that the Federal Reserve will wind down monthly asset purchases this year and hike interest rates the next, which strengthened the dollar on Thursday.

The Fed's asset-purchasing program, currently set at $55 billion in Treasury and mortgage debt a month, weakens the dollar by suppressing long-term interest rates to spur investing and hiring.

The Commerce Department reported earlier that U.S. gross domestic product was revised up to 2.6% in the final three months of 2013, from a preliminary estimate of 2.4%. Market expectations had been for an upward revision to 2.7%.

Still, the report showed that personal spending was revised up to 3.3% from 2.6% initially, the fastest rate of growth in three years, which drew applause from investors.

Separately, the Labor Department said the number of individuals filing for initial jobless benefits in the U.S. last week declined by 10,000 to a 311,000 from the previous week's revised total of 321,000.

Analysts were expecting jobless claims to rise by 4,000.

Thursday's data fueled already growing opinions that a spate of disappointing economic indicators released earlier in the year were the product of rough winter weather and not due to an underlying decline in demand.

Investors shrugged off a National Association of Realtors report revealing that its pending home sales index dropped by 0.8% last month, disappointing expectations for a 0.3% gain.

Pending home sales for January were revised down to a 0.2% decline from a previously reported gain of 0.1%.

Year-on-year, pending home sales fell at annualized rate of 10.2% in February, worse than expectations for a 8.5% decline, after declining 9.3% in January.

Elsewhere, the euro came under pressure of its own on expectations for ECB to loosen policy in the near future.

Earlier this week European Central Bank officials indicated that they are considering fresh policy options to stave off the risk of deflation in the region, including negative deposit rates or liquidity injections.

The dollar was up against the yen, with USD/JPY up 0.10% at 102.16, and up against the Swiss franc, with USD/CHF up 0.13% at 0.8862.

The greenback was down against the pound, with GBP/USD up 0.21% at 1.6615.

The pound shot up against the dollar after the Office for National Statistics revealed that U.K. retail sales rose 1.7% in February, taking back most of January's 2.0% decline, and up 3.7% from a year earlier.

Markets were expecting a 0.5% monthly increase a 2.5% on-year gain.

Core retail sales, which exclude automobile sales, jumped 1.8%, far outstripping forecasts for a 0.3% gain, after falling 2.0% in January.

The dollar was down against its cousins in Canada, Australia and New Zealand, with USD/CAD down 0.64% at 1.1030, AUD/USD up 0.32% at 0.9256 and NZD/USD up 0.96% at 0.8672.

All three currencies rose after data revealed New Zealand's trade surplus rose sharply in February.

The kiwi, the aussie and the loonie also received additional boosts after a New Zealand central bank deputy governor indicated that the monetary authority could remove measures to cool the housing market, which would allow inflation to rise.

The US Dollar Index, which tracks the performance of the greenback versus a basket of six other major currencies, was up 0.14% at 80.28.

On Friday, the U.S. is to round up the week with a report on personal spending and revised data on consumer sentiment. offers an extensive set of professional tools for the financial markets.
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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.

This article appears in: Investing , Forex and Currencies

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