U.S. Markets

Dollar index surges on U.S. jobs data, Cohn comments

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. dollar was set for its biggest one-day gain against a basket of major currencies so far this year after a strong U.S. July payrolls report and comments from National Economic Council director Gary Cohn about lowering the U.S. corporate tax rate.

Dollar banknotes are seen under Euro saving money box in this picture illustration taken February 16, 2017. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

The dollar index, which measures the greenback against six major rivals, jumped about 1 percent to a one-week high of 93.774 .DXY after the Labor Department said nonfarm payrolls increased by 209,000 jobs last month and Cohn's comments. It was last up 0.7 percent at 93.529.

Cohn told Bloomberg TV on Friday that the 35 percent U.S. corporate tax rate should be more in line with the 24 percent average rate among other countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

The jobs figure beat expectations of economists polled by Reuters for a gain of 183,000, while average hourly earnings increased 0.3 percent to match expectations after rising 0.2 percent in June.

Analysts said traders who had bet against or “shorted” the dollar - a popular bet as the dollar index posted its biggest monthly drop since March 2016 last month - were being forced to repurchase the currency after the jobs data and Cohn’s remarks.

“The jobs number was solid,” said Alvise Marino, FX strategist at Credit Suisse in New York. He also said Cohn’s comments revived traders’ focus on potential tax reform.

The dollar index's gains put it on track for its biggest one-day percentage increase since Dec. 15. The euro fell more than 1 percent against the dollar to a four-day low of $1.1729 EUR= after touching a more than 2-1/2-year high of $1.1909 on Wednesday.

While the dollar index was set to post its first weekly percentage gain in four weeks, the euro was still set to post its fourth straight weekly percentage increase against the greenback.

Against the yen, the dollar gained as much as 0.9 percent to a one-week high of 111.04 yen JPY=, rising off recent seven-week lows. The dollar touched 0.9763 franc CHF=, its highest against the Swiss currency in more than six weeks.

The dollar has suffered in recent months, largely on increased doubts that the Federal Reserve would raise interest rates again this year and obstacles to U.S. President Donald Trump’s agenda, which is seen by investors as pro-growth.

The outlook for a December rate hike remained uncertain, with federal funds futures last implying traders saw a roughly 50 percent chance of a December increase on Friday, according to CME Group’s FedWatch tool.

“This is just a pause in the weak dollar trend,” said Douglas Borthwick, managing director at Chapdelaine Foreign Exchange in New York.

Reporting by Sam Forgione; Editing by Frances Kerry