Dollar gains ground vs. rivals ahead of U.S. GDP report
The dollar was broadly higher against a basket of other major currencies on Friday, as investors eyed the release of U.S. fourth quarter growth data due later in the day and as Thursday’s strong jobless claims report continued to support.
The dollar remained supported after data on Thursday showing that the number of people filing unemployment assistance in the U.S. last week fell to a five-week low sparked optimism over the strength of the job market.
The U.S. Department of Labor said the number of individuals filing for initial jobless benefits in the week ending March 21 declined by 9,000 to 282,000 from the previous week’s total of 291,000.
Another report showed that the U.S. service sector expanded at the fastest rate this month since September.
The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback’s strength against a trade-weighted basket of six major currencies, was up 0.49% to 98.03, off session lows of 96.32.
EUR/USD dropped 0.59% to 1.0819 as investors remained cautious after Greece failed in a bid on Wednesday to secure a quick cash payment from the euro zone rescue fund to help stave off potential bankruptcy next month.
Athens had appealed for the European Financial Stability Facility to return €1.2 billion it said it had overpaid when it transferred bonds intended for bank recapitalization this month.
The Greek government is expected to present a detailed list of proposed reforms to its eurozone partners by next Monday.
The pound edged higher, with GBP/USD up 0.19% to 1.4876.
Sterling’s gains were expected to remain limited after the Nationwide Building Society said on Friday that U.K. house prices rose 0.1% this month, disappointing expectations for a 0.2% gain, after a 0.1% downtick in February.
Elsewhere, the dollar was higher against the yen and the Swiss franc, with USD/JPY adding 0.13% to 119.34 and with USD/CHF climbing 0.45% to 0.9672.
The Australian, New Zealand and Canadian dollars were broadly weaker, with AUD/USD retreating 0.46% to 0.7793 and NZD/USD declining 0.43% to 0.7568, while USD/CAD rose 0.32% to trade at 1.2522.
The commodity-linked loonie also weakened on the back of dropping oil prices, as upbeat U.S. data overshadowed concerns over a supply disruption in the Middle East following news Saudi Arabia launched air strikes in Yemen this week to counter Iran-backed Houthi rebels.
Later in the day, the U.S. was to release final data on fourth quarter economic growth and the revised reading of the University of Michigan consumer sentiment index.