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Dollar pushes higher despite downbeat Philly Fed report

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Shutterstock photo - - The dollar pushed higher against a basket of other major currencies on Thursday, despite data showing that manufacturing activity in the Philadelphia-region expanded at the slowest pace in 13 months in March, as the greenback continued to recover from Wednesday's selloff.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia reported that its manufacturing index deteriorated to a reading of 5.0 this month from February's reading of 5.2. Analysts had expected the index to rise to 7.1 in March.

Earlier Thursday, the U.S. Department of Labor said the number of individuals filing for initial jobless benefits in the week ending March 14 increased by 1,000 to 91,000 from the previous week's total of 290,000. Analysts had expected initial jobless claims to rise by 2,000 to 292,000 last week.

A separate report showed that the U.S. current account deficit widened to $113.5 billion in the fourth quarter from $98.9 billion in the third quarter, whose figure was revised from a previously estimated deficit of $100.3 billion.

Analysts had expected the current account deficit to widen to $103.2 billion in the last quarter.

Meanwhile, the dollar continued to regain some ground after weakening broadly on Wednesday when the Federal Reserve indicated that U.S. economic growth has moderated and that interest rates will rise at a slower pace than previously forecast.

The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback's strength against a trade-weighted basket of six major currencies, was up 2.25% to 99.58, re-approaching the previous week's 11-1/2 year highs of 100.78.

USD/CHF jumped 1.32% to 0.9911 and EUR/CHF declined 0.91% to trade at 1.0531 after the Swiss National Bank said it was keeping its benchmark interest rate unchanged at minus 0.75%, in line with market expectations.

The central bank left the target range for the three-month Libor unchanged at between minus 1.25% and minus 0.25%.

The SNB also cut its forecasts for inflation and growth from its December forecast, in response to the franc's rally against the euro after it abandoned its 1.20 exchange rate floor against the single currency in mid-January.

The euro extended losses against the dollar, with EUR/USD plummeting 2.26% to 1.0622. Sentiment on the single currency weakened ahead of European Union talks to discuss Greece's bailout later in the day.

Ahead of the talks, European Parliament President Martin Schulz warned that Greece's financial situation was "dangerous", with debt payments looming.

The dollar was also higher against the yen and the pound, with USD/JPY gaining 0.65% to 120.89 and with GBP/USD tumbling 1.68% to 1.4730.

Meanwhile, the Australian, New Zealand and Canadian dollars remained broadly weaker, with AUD/USD losing 1.95% to 0.7620 and NZD/USD down 1.48% to 0.7376, while USD/CAD jumped 1.42% to 1.2742.

Official data earlier showed that New Zealand's gross domestic product expanded at a rate of 0.8% in the fourth quarter of 2014, in line with expectations and down from 0.9% in the previous quarter, whose figure was revised from a previously estimated growth rate of 1.0%. 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 Nasdaq, Inc.

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