* Sterling rises on robust economic data
* U.S. monthly jobs data due Friday
(Updates to mid-afternoon New York trading, adds comments on
By Michael Connor
NEW YORK, May 1 The dollar perked up on Thursday
ahead of a U.S. payrolls report and gained against the yen as
sterling scored a nearly five-year high against the greenback
after robust manufacturing data bolstered optimism about
Other data also signalled labor and business growth in the
United States but did little to move currency prices before
Friday's jobs data release for April, which may show America's
economy shaking off the drag of harsh winter weather.
On Thursday, the Institute for Supply Management said its
index on U.S. factory activity rose to its highest since
December. Other reports showed U.S. consumer spending recording
its largest gain in more than 4-1/2 years, reinforcing views the
economy was regaining steam.
"It appears that any jobs data weakness seen at the turn of
the year was, yes, weather related," said Christopher Vecchio,
currency analyst at DailyFX.
Nonfarm payrolls increased by 210,000 in April, up from a
192,000-gain in March, according to a Reuters survey of
economists. The unemployment rate is forecast slipping one-tenth
of a percentage point to 6.6 percent, a five-year low previously
touched in January.
The dollar index, which declined Wednesday, was ahead
0.06 percent in mid-afternoon New York trading. The dollar was
up 0.02 percent against the yen to 102.26 yen and up 0.03
percent against the euro at $1.3869 in trading thinned by
holidays in Europe and Asia.
The pound was worth $1.6892, a gain of 0.13 percent,
after rising to an almost five-year high of $1.6921.
Sterling has gained around 10 percent against a
trade-weighted basket of currencies in the past 12 months but
has struggled to make progress since mid-February as many
players judged the best news on the economy had been priced in.
There are growing doubts over whether inflation, investment
and underlying demand in the economy will be strong enough to
force the Bank of England to raise interest rates early next
year, as market pricing suggests.
The euro's continued strength in the face of a steady
reining-in of U.S. monetary policy stimulus and of expectations
that the European Central Bank will be forced at some stage to
do the opposite has become one of this year's dominant trends.
Policymakers at the euro zone's central bank have talked
aggressively about their willingness to take action to head off
a debilitating cycle of falling prices and demand, and as such
have outright opposed any further gains for the euro.
But they face substantial barriers to delivering the sort of
decisive policy action that would weaken the currency at a time
when capital is flooding back into the euro zone's peripheral
economies and stock markets.
(Additional Reporting By Patrick Graham in London; Editing by
Peter Galloway and James Dalgleish)