FOREX-Dollar pressured as U.S. jobs disappoint USD bulls

Sun Jan 12, 2014 5:37pm EST

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By Ian Chua

SYDNEY, Jan 13 (Reuters) - The U.S. dollar nursed broad losses early on Monday after surprisingly soft employment data raised doubts about how quickly the Federal Reserve can scale back stimulus.

Disappointing British and Canadian data on Friday also undermined both sterling and the loonie, leaving the euro, yen and Antipodean currencies among the best performers.

The dollar index last traded at 80.630, having fallen 0.4 percent on Friday after data showed U.S. employers hired the fewest workers in nearly three years in December.

The rise of 74,000 payrolls was well short of the 200,000 or so that most economists had expected, prompting a big slide in U.S. Treasury yields.

The implied yields on Fed funds futures also tumbled as markets pushed back the timing of the first interest rate hike out towards late-2015 from mid-2015.

As a result, the dollar skidded to a three-week low of 103.83 from Friday's high of 105.42. It has since steadied at 104.10.

The euro climbed to $1.3668, pulling further away from a one-month trough of $1.3548 plumbed on Thursday. But it could be capped at $1.3680 for now, a resistance level representing the 38.2 percent retracement of the Dec. 27-Jan 9 fall.

Traders expect the market to quietly digest the big moves seen on Friday with Japan on holiday and given an absence of major economic data.

"The surprisingly weak headline payrolls print sparked a large switch in USD sentiment," analysts at Barclays Capital wrote in a note to clients.

"Arguably, the recent improvement in data left the market vulnerably positioned for Friday's release."

Against the yen, the euro was at 142.25. It has been hovering just above 142.00 since drifting up from a 2-1/2 week low of 141.50 a week ago.

Sterling also suffered a setback on Friday after weaker-than-expected manufacturing output, a sharp fall in the construction sector, and a slowdown in retail sales growth gave investors a reality check.

Economists said growth in the fourth quarter might now struggle to keep up the pace which has made Britain one of the fastest-growing economies among the world's rich nations.

The pound, which recently hit two-year highs at $1.6605, last traded at $1.6475.

Also under pressure, the Canadian dollar struggled at near four-year lows against the greenback after data showed the country unexpectedly shed jobs last month.

The loonie, which fell in every session last week against its U.S. peer, last stood at C$1.0906 per dollar. The dollar had scaled a peak of C$1.0946 on Friday.

In contrast, both the Australian and New Zealand dollars gained ground on the greenback with the Aussie touching a one-month high of $0.9010.

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