The dollar was broadly higher against the other main currencies on Thursday after a better-than-expected U.S. retail sales report boosted optimism over the economic recovery and offset a larger than forecast increase in jobless claims.
During U.S. morning trade, USD/JPY was up 0.68% to 103.12, re-approaching the seven month high of 103.38 struck Tuesday.
The Commerce Department said Thursday that U.S. retail sales rose 0.7% in November, above expectations for a 0.6% increase. Core retail sales rose 0.4%, above forecasts for a 0.2% increase.
Separately, the Department of Labor said the number of people who filed for unemployment assistance in the U.S. last week rose to a two month high of 368,000, compared to expectations for an increase to 320,000 from the previous week’s revised total of 300,000.
The data did little to alter expectations that the Federal Reserve could begin tapering its USD85 billion a month asset purchase program at its policy meeting scheduled for December 17 - 18.
The euro fell to session lows against the dollar, with EUR/USD down 0.25% to 1.3750, moving further back from Wednesday’s six-week highs of 1.3794.
Earlier Thursday, data showed that industrial production in the euro area fell by 1.1% in October and rose just 0.2% from a year earlier. Economists had forecast a monthly increase of 0.3% and an annual gain of 1.1%.
The pound was also lower against the dollar, with GBP/USD falling 0.25% to 1.6334, down from Tuesday’s highs of 1.6466, the strongest level in 27 months.
The dollar was at session highs against the Swiss franc, with USD/CHF up 0.36% to 0.8894.
The Swiss franc touched session lows against the dollar and the euro earlier 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 greenback gained ground against the Australian, New Zealand and Canadian dollars, with AUD/USD tumbling 1.35% to 0.8925, NZD/USD down 0.25% to 0.8236 and USD/CAD rising 0.49% to 1.0640.
Australia’s dollar weakened across the board after Reserve Bank Governor Glenn Stevens said Thursday Australia needed an exchange rate close to 0.8500.
The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the performance of the greenback versus a basket of six other major currencies, was up 0.36% to 80.16.
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