Investing.com - The dollar traded mixed against most major currencies on Thursday, erasing earlier losses after better-than-expected U.S. retail sales and jobless claims reports fueled demand for the currency.
Reports the Russian standoff in Ukraine is escalating sparked added safe-haven demand for the greenback.
In U.S. trading on Thursday, EUR/USD was down 0.40% at 1.3848.
News reports that Russia is conducting new military exercises in the Crimea region of Ukraine spooked investors and sparked demand for safe-haven asset classes, the dollar and yen especially.
Tensions between Russia and the West have remained high ahead of Sunday''s referendum in Ukraine’s Crimea region, controlled by pro-Russian forces, on whether citizens there want to join Russia.
Those concerns elevated the dollar and erased earlier losses stemming from upbeat takes on the euro area economy from various policymakers.
On Wednesday, ECB executive board member Benoit Coeure said the monetary authority saw no indications of deflation in the euro area, while ECB Chief Economist Peter Praet noted that the euro area''s economy has improved over the past two years.
Also on Wednesday, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble said interest rates in the euro zone are too low from a German point of view. He also said he doesn’t expect deflation to materialize in the euro zone.
The euro rose at the dollar''s expense as markets bet the European Central Bank will hold off on implementing stimulus measures even though recent inflation rates have come in softer than market expectations.
The ECB left interest rates at a record low 0.25% at its policy meeting last week and implemented no new policy measures to shore up growth despite forecasting low inflation for years to come.
Still, Ukraine fears took center stage and sent the dollar back on top as did solid U.S. indicators.
The Commerce Department reported that U.S. retail sales rose 0.3% in February, ending two months of declines and better than market expectations for a 0.2% increase.
Core retail sales, which exclude automobile sales, also rose 0.3% last month, ahead of expectations for a 0.2% rise.
Separately, the Department of Labor said the number of individuals filing new claims for unemployment benefits in the U.S. fell by 9,000 to a three-month low of 315,000 last week.
Analysts had expected initial jobless claims to rise by 6,000 last week.
Soft production data out of China fueled demand for both the dollar and the yen.
Chinese industrial production rose 8.6% in the first two months of 2014, according to data released on Thursday, missing market expectations for a 9.5% increase, while Chinese retail sales rose by 11.8%, beneath market forecasts for a 13.5% gain.
The dollar was down against the yen, with USD/JPY down 1.05% at 101.69, and up against the Swiss franc, with USD/CHF up 0.16% at 0.8754.
The greenback was down slightly against the pound, with GBP/USD up 0.02% at 1.6624.
The dollar was down against its cousins in Canada, Australia and New Zealand, with USD/CAD down 0.57% at 1.1057, AUD/USD up 0.36% at 0.9020 and NZD/USD up 0.07% at 0.8530.
All three currencies firmed after Australia''s statistics bureau reported that the economy added 47,300 jobs in February, well above forecasts for jobs growth of 18,000. The nation’s unemployment rate remained unchanged at 6.0%.
The dollar index, which tracks the performance of the greenback versus a basket of six other major currencies, was up 0.08% at 79.76.
On Friday, the U.S. is to round up the week with data on producer price inflation and preliminary data from the University of Michigan on consumer sentiment.
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