On Wednesday, the U.S. Commerce Department announced that consumer prices drop 0.1% in December, compared to outlooks for a flat reading. Year-over-year, consumer prices were 0.7% higher. Core CPI, which excludes food and energy costs, missing forecasts for a gain of 0.2%, increased by 0.1%. Furthermore, the U.S. Commerce Department said that housing starts fell 2.5% to hit 1.149 million units last month from November’s total of 1.179 million units, although analysts had awaited an advance 1.6% to 1.200 million.
In the meantime, the number of building permits released rejected 3.9% to 1.232 million units from November’s total of 1.289 million, with economists forecasting a drop of 6.4% to 1.200 million units.
Elsewhere, the safe-haven yen stayed supported as oil prices dropped to the lowest level since 2003 on Wednesday, falling below $28 per barrel after the International Energy Agency said in a report that the supply glut in markets looks set to last until at least late 2016, with USD/JPY down 0.73% at 116.74, off one-year lows of 115.98 hit earlier in the day.
The commodity-related Canadian dollar was also affected because of the ongoing oil rout, with USD/CAD up 0.25% at a fresh 13-year high of 1.4615.
The Australian and New Zealand dollars were also weaker, with AUD/USD down 0.69% at 0.6860 and with NZD/USD retreating 0.62% to trade at 0.6374.
The single currency remained steady against the dollar, with EUR/USD to trade at 1.0906 after rising to highs of 1.0976 earlier in the session.
The dollar remained lower against the British pound and the Swiss franc, with GBP/USD up 0.10% at nearly seven-year lows of 1.4175, and with USD/CHF slipping 0.12% to 1.0021.
The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback’s strength against a trade-weighted basket of six major currencies, was down 0.08% at 99.09.