- The dollar remained mostly higher against the other major currencies on Friday, after disappointing U.S. consumer sentiment data, although gains were expected to be limited by fresh uncertainty over the strength of the U.S. economic recovery.

The dollar was steady against the yen in U.S. morning trade, with USD/JPY down 0.02% to 104.32.

In a preliminary report, the University of Michigan said its consumer sentiment index fell to 80.4 in January, from a reading of 82.5 the previous month, confounding expectations for a rise to 83.5.

The report came after official data showed that U.S. building permits declined 3% to 0.986 million units in December, from 1.017 million units the previous month. Analysts had expected building permits to slip to 1.015 million units last month.

Data also showed that U.S. housing starts rose dropped 9.8% to 0.999 million units in December, from an upwardly revised 1.107 million units in November, compared to expectations for a decline to 0.990 million units.

The reports came as U.S. economic data released on Thursday was viewed as too soft to prompt the Federal Reserve to speed up the pace at which it tapers monthly asset purchases.

Separately, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke on Thursday said the central bank should be giving the economy the stimulus it needs despite worries that quantitative easing may destabilize the financial system.

The euro was lower against the dollar, with EUR/USD down 0.32% to 1.3576.

The pound was higher against the dollar, with GBP/USD advancing 0.54% to 1.6439.

Official data earlier showed that U.K. retail sales increased by 2.6% in December, far more than the expected 0.4% rise. Retail sales in November were revised down to a 0.1% rise from a previously estimated 0.3% gain.

The dollar was higher against the Swiss franc, with USD/CHF gaining 0.37% to 0.9081.

In Switzerland, official data showed that producer price inflation was flat last month, confounding expectations for a 0.1% rise, after a 0.1% fall in November.

The greenback was broadly higher against the Australian, New Zealand and Canadian dollars, with AUD/USD dropping 0.50% to 0.8777, NZD/USD tumbling 1.05% to 0.8268 and USD/CAD gaining 0.44% to 1.0979.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the performance of the greenback versus a basket of six other major currencies, was up 0.18% to 81.17.

Please LIKE our Facebook page - it makes us stronger