Official statistics from the U.S. Department of Labour revealed that the number of people filing for unemployment benefits in the week ending January the 8th rose by 7,000 to 284,000, compared to the previous week’s figure of 277,000. The report disappointed the median estimate, calling for a drop of 2,000 to 275,000.
The U.S. dollar gained ground earlier, as Brent crude prices dropped below the $30 per barrel threshold for the first time in twelve years, as Brent was forced lower, amid a global oversupply and escalating concerns over a slowing China.
The ongoing fall of the oil prices weighed on the commodity-dependent Australian, New Zealand and Canadian dollars. AUD/USD held steady at 0.6953, hovering over four-month troughs of 0.6930, while NZD/USD plunged 0.90%. USD/CAD was little changed at 1.4348, after reaching the new 12-1/2 year peak of 1.4398 earlier in the session.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed that the number of employed individuals fell by 1,000 the previous month, against forecasts for a 12,500 fall. The figure was increased in November by 75,000, which was upwardly revised from a previous estimate of 71,400. On the other hand, the unemployment rate in the country remained flat at 5.8% in December, missing expectations of a rise up to 5.9%.
Market participants were also concerned, following a series of gun and bomb strikes, taking place in the heart of Jakarta, Indonesia, on Thursday morning, where four people were killed.
Elsewhere, the single currency was under pressure, in the wake of the release of the ECB meeting minutes back on the 3rd of December 2015, revealing that some members of the governing council voted for a bigger cut to the deposit rate than the one that was actually announced.
In addition, the minutes shed some light in the possibility of expanding the central bank’s monthly asset purchases under its quantitative easing programme from the current level of €60 billion or of frontloading asset purchases.
The euro was stronger against the dollar, gaining 0.16% to trade at 1.0892. Conversely, the dollar held steady against the sterling and the franc, with GBP/USD trading at 1.4401, near Tuesday’s five-year trough of 1.4349 and with USD/CHF trading at 1.0049. Meanwhile, the dollar was up against the yen by 10% to 117.80.
On the same day, the Bank of England’s latest policy meeting minutes indicated that the majority of policymakers expected the inflation to rise gradually in the near term than what was predicted in the Committee’s November inflation report projections. The minutes also stressed that recent volatility in global market augmented the risks to global growth.
The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback’s performance against a group of six other counterparts, was flat at 98.91.