Dollar near a three-month low ahead of Thanksgiving holiday

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The dollar edged lower against a basket of currencies on Wednesday, trading near a three-month low, even as a risk-on rally in global financial markets appeared to stall after U.S. data showed a less-than-rosy economic picture.

FILE PHOTO: George Washington is seen with printed medical mask on the one Dollar banknotes in this illustration taken, March 31, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

The number of Americans filing first-time claims for jobless benefits increased further last week, suggesting that an explosion in new COVID-19 infections and business restrictions were boosting layoffs and undermining the labor market recovery.

Other data out on Wednesday showed the economy got off to a solid start in the fourth quarter, with consumer spending and business investment in equipment topping analysts’ expectations in October. Businesses also reported a sharp rebound in profits in the third quarter.

“The avalanche of mixed U.S. data today had little impact on the USD, and it appeared traders were more focused on pre-Thanksgiving holiday position adjustments than anything else,” Ronald Simpson, managing director, global currency analysis at Action Economics, said in a note.

The U.S. dollar index was 0.14% lower at 91.999, rebounding modestly after having fallen as low as 91.927 earlier in the session, its weakest since Sept 1.

The dollar has come under pressure in recent months from expectations that U.S. interest rates will remain near historic lows for years to come, and as news of various COVID-19 vaccines helped boost investors’ appetite for riskier currencies.

U.S. Federal Reserve policymakers discussed how the central bank’s asset purchases could be adjusted to provide more support to markets and the economy during the November policy setting meeting.

The dollar is expected to continue to fall as progress on a vaccine and the expected choice of former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen as the next U.S. Treasury secretary relieved two big uncertainties for investors.

Sterling edged higher on Wednesday after British finance minister Rishi Sunak announced a one-year spending plan to parliament, along with new forecasts for the country’s coronavirus-hit economy.

Bitcoin, the most popular cryptocurrency, climbed to $19,049.13, a little short of its record of $19,666 from December 2017.

Reporting by Saqib Iqbal Ahmed; Editing by Jan Harvey and Jonathan Oatis