(In 4th paragraph, corrects to say “the number of Americans receiving jobless benefits fell to a 28-year low,” not “the number of Americans applying for jobless benefits fell to a 28-year low”)
* Dollar recovers after strong unemployment, business data
* Yen, Swiss franc retreat after multi-month highs vs dollar
* Brazilian real falls 7 percent
By Dion Rabouin
NEW YORK, May 18 (Reuters) - The U.S. dollar reversed early losses against a basket of major currencies on Thursday after stronger-than-expected U.S. economic data put the focus back on a widely anticipated increase in overnight interest rates by the Federal Reserve.
The Swiss franc and Japanese yen, currencies considered safe haven investments during times of uncertainty, surrendered gains against the greenback after the release of U.S. initial jobless claims and the Philadelphia Federal Reserve’s Business Index.
The dollar also touched a session high against the euro.
The number of Americans receiving jobless benefits fell to a 28-year low and the Philly Fed’s business index came in at double economists’ expectations.
“The U.S. economy is offering a welcome distraction to the negative news flows out of Washington,” said Joe Manimbo, senior market analyst at Western Union Business Solutions in Washington. “The readings on jobless claims and the Philly Fed index back expectations for faster (second quarter) growth and a Fed rate hike next month.”
Expectations for a rate increase by the Fed had eased in the wake of lackluster data on U.S. inflation and growth in recent weeks, as well as news about President Donald Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey and possible ties between members of his administration and Russia.
Manimbo said he expected the data could help gird investor certainty about a rate hike when the Fed meets next June 13-14.
“Since we saw fresh signs of strength in the job market that bodes well for the next payrolls report and that’ll be the last major look at the economy before we hear from the Fed,” he said.
The Swiss franc had earlier hit a 10-day high against the euro and its strongest since Trump’s election in November versus the dollar. It was last little changed.
The yen, which saw its biggest daily gain against the dollar since July on Wednesday, had touched a more than three week high . The dollar was last up 0.3 percent to 111.15 yen.
The euro fell 0.45 percent against the dollar to $1.1105.
The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against six currencies, rose 0.1 percent.
The Brazilian real fell more than 7 percent on news President Michel Temer was recorded discussing payments to silence testimony by a potential witness in a wide-ranging corruption probe known as Lava Jato, or Car Wash.
The dollar was last up 7.35 percent at 3.34 reais. (Editing by Bernadette Baum)