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INV: Dollar little changed vs. rivals after mostly positive U.S. data
The U.S. Department of Labor said initial jobless claims declined by 2,000 to 241,000 in the week ending March 11 from the previous week’s total of 243,000. Analysts expected jobless claims to fall by 3,000 to 240,000 last week.
The U.S. Commerce Department said housing starts rose 3.0% to 1.288 million units last month from January’s total of 1.251 million units. Analysts had an increase of 1.4%.
On a less positive note, building permits dropped 6.2% to1.213 million units in February from 1.285 million the month before. Economists had forecast permits to fall by just 2.6%.
Separately, the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia said its Philly Fed manufacturing index fell to to 32.8 this month from 43.3 in February, compared to expectations for a decline to 30.0.
The reports came a day after the Fed increased interest rates by 25 basis points to 1.00% from 0.75%, as expected.
The greenback weakened broadly following the decision, as the central bank’s stance was seen as less hawkish than expected by sticking to projections of three total rate hikes in 2017 and not four as some traders had hoped for.
Elsewhere, GBP/USD climbed 0.51% to a two-week high of 1.2355 after the Bank of England held interest rates at record lows, but the meeting minutes showed the monetary policy committee was split on the decision.
USD/JPY held steady at 113.35, after hitting a two-week low of 112.91 earlier in the session, while USD/CHF slid 0.32% to 0.9970.
The Bank of Japan chose to leave its monetary policy unchanged at the end of its policy meeting on Thursday, underscoring the diverging policy paths of major global central banks.
Also in line with market expectations, the Swiss National Bank kept its Libor rate on hold at a record low of -0.75%.
The Australian and New Zealand dollars were weaker, with AUD/USD down 0.30% at 0.7687 and with NZD/USD tumbling 0.94% to 0.6980.
Earlier Thursday, the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported that the number of employed people declined by 6,400 in February, compared to expectations for an increase of 16,000.
The unemployment rate rose to 5.9% last month from 5.7%, confounding expectations for an unchanged reading.
Separately, Statistics New Zealand reported that the country’s gross domestic product rose 0.4% in the fourth quarter of 2016, confouding expectations for an increase of 0.7%.
Year-on-year, New Zealand’s GDP rose 2.7% in the last quarter, disappointing expectations for a growth rate of 3.1%.
Meanwhile, USD/CAD was little changed at 1.3308, the lowest since March 1.
The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback’s strength against a trade-weighted basket of six major currencies, was little changed at 100.31, just off a one-month low of 100.25 hit overnight.