By Karen Brettell
NEW YORK, April 18 () - The U.S. dollar gained to its strongest level against the euro in over a week on Thursday as data pointed to a sturdy U.S. economy, while the euro was dented by weak manufacturing activity in Europe.
U.S. retail sales increased by the most in 1-1/2 years in March as households boosted purchases of motor vehicles and a range of other goods, the latest indication that economic growth picked up in the first quarter after a false start.
The picture was less bullish in the euro zone as data showed that activity in Germany's manufacturing sector shrank for a fourth straight month in April, while a similar survey from France also painted a bleak picture.
"In the space of several hours we got a timely reminder that the growth leadership is very decisively in favor of the U.S. dollar," said Richard Franulovich, head of FX strategy at Westpac Banking Corp in New York.
Investors have been looking for signs that global growth is stabilizing after a slowdown.
"Investors are worried about the health of the global economy and the eurozone and the fortunes of the euro are closely tied with that," said Ricardo Evangelista, a senior analyst at ActivTrades in London.
A week ago, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi raised the prospect of more support for the struggling euro zone economy if its slowdown persist.
Currency bid prices at 1:52PM (1752 GMT)
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