May 3, 2019 / 12:32 AM / 23 days ago

Dollar falls as focus turn to soft spots in U.S. jobs report

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The dollar slipped against a basket of currencies on Friday as traders focused on the weaker aspects in the April U.S. payrolls report, brushing aside stronger-than-forecast hiring and a drop in the jobless rate to the lowest in more than 49 years.

U.S. Dollar and Euro notes are seen in this June 22, 2017 illustration photo. REUTERS/Thomas White/Illustration

The modest 0.2% monthly pace of wage growth and the drop in the job participation rate prompted some to sell the greenback, analysts said.

“These soft details didn’t provide a compelling reason to add to already pretty big long dollar positions,” said Eric Viloria, currency strategist at Credit Agricole in New York.

In late U.S. trading, an index that tracks the greenback against a basket of six currencies was 0.32% lower at 97.521, adding to its weekly decline of about 0.5%.

The euro was up 0.21% at $1.11955 after hitting a one-week low at $1.1135, while the dollar was 0.38% weaker at 111.09 yen.

The single currency gained 0.4% versus the greenback on the week, while the dollar fell 0.4% against the yen.

The dollar also came under pressure when a measure of U.S. services activity from the Institute for Supply Management posted a surprise drop to a 20-month low in April.

Comments from Chicago Fed President Charles Evans and St. Louis Fed President James Bullard supported bets the U.S. central bank might lower key lending rates by the end of the year even though Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said two days earlier he did not see the need to raise or cut rates right now.

Evans said at an event in Stockholm that lower U.S. rates may be needed if the economy softens.

Bullard told CNBC television the Fed’s policy rate is “a little tight” and current readings of inflation are uncomfortably low.

Interest rates futures implied traders saw about a 47% chance the Fed would lower rates at its Dec. 10-11 policy meeting, compared with 50% late on Thursday, according to the CME Group’s FedWatch program.

Among other major currencies, the Australian and New Zealand dollars have fallen on speculation both countries’ central banks will lower interest rates next week.

The Reserve Bank of Australia meets on May 7 and the Reserve Bank of New Zealand a day after. Each may cut rates after low inflation reports, analysts said.

The Aussie was up 0.24% at $0.7017, while the Kiwi was 0.32% higher at $0.6638.

Additional reporting by Tom Finn in London, Wayne Cole in Sydney, editing by Jonathan Oatis and David Gregorio

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