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Forex - Dollar gains as U.S. retail sales point to Fed tapering

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Shutterstock photo - The dollar rose against most major currencies on Thursday after better-than-expected U.S. retail sales figure fueled market expectations that the Federal Reserve is moving closer to tapering the pace of its USD85 billion in monthly asset purchases, possibly next week.

In U.S. trading on Wednesday, EUR/USD was down 0.31% at 1.3743.

The Commerce Department reported earlier that U.S. retail sales rose 0.7% in November, beating market expectations for a 0.6% increase. Core retail sales, which are stripped of automobiles, rose 0.4%, well above forecasts for a 0.2% increase.

The data kept expectations strong that the Federal Reserve will soon decide to taper its USD85 billion in monthly bond purchases, possibly at its Dec. 17-18 policy meeting if not in early 2014.

Monthly bond purchases aim to drive recovery by depressing long-term interest rates, weakening the dollar as a side effect, though talk of their dismantling can bolster the U.S. currency.

Elsewhere, the U.S. Department of Labor said the number of individuals filing for initial jobless claims assistance last week rose to a two-month high of 368,000, far surpassing expectations for an increase to 320,000 from the previous week's revised total of 300,000.

Markets shrugged off the news, attributing the increase to holiday volatility typical this time of year, while a budget deal underway in the U.S. Congress also sent the dollar rising amid sentiments that fiscal uncertainties may fade and further convince the Fed the economy is in less need of monetary support.

Meanwhile in Europe, industrial production in the euro area fell by 1.1% in October and rose just 0.2% from a year earlier.

Economists were forecasting a monthly increase of 0.3% and an annual gain of 1.1%, and the disappointing readings gave investors reason to sell the euro for dollars on Thursday.

The greenback was up against the pound, with GBP/USD down 0.19% at 1.6346.

The dollar was up against the yen, with USD/JPY up 0.82% at 103.27, and up against the Swiss franc, with USD/CHF up 0.37% at 0.8896.

The Swiss franc softened after the Swiss National Bank said it was maintaining the minimum exchange rate on the franc at 1.20 per euro and its benchmark interest rate unchanged at zero, after its final policy meeting of the year.

The dollar was up against its cousins in Canada, Australia and New Zealand, with USD/CAD up 0.49% at 1.0642, AUD/USD down 1.24% at 0.8937 and NZD/USD trading down 0.14% at 0.8246.

The Australian dollar came under heavy pressure earlier after Reserve Bank Governor Glenn Stevens said the country needed an exchange rate close to 0.8500.

The dollar index, which tracks the performance of the greenback versus a basket of six other major currencies, was up 0.42% at 80.20.

On Friday, the U.S. is to round up the week with data on producer price inflation. 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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