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    Dollar index gain ground against rivals

    The dollar managed to curry onto gains against the rest of the major currencies on Friday, as the uncertainty continued to weigh over how much the Federal Reserve will be able to raise interest rates this year, after the release of mostly positive U.S. jobs data.

    The U.S. economy added 151,000 jobs in January, missing expectations for an increase of 190,000, the lowest number since September. The economy created 262,000 jobs in December, whose figure was revised from a previously estimated 292,000 gain.

    The U.S. unemployment rate ticked down to 4.9% last month from 5.0% in December, despite the slowdown in jobs growth. Analysts had expected the unemployment rate to remain unchanged in January.

    The report also showed that average hourly earnings rose 0.5% in January, compared to expectations for a 0.3% gain, after a flat reading in December.
     
    Elsewhere, the dollar edged higher against the Japanese yen, with USD/JPY up 0.09% to 116.88 in late trade, off lows of 116.27.

    The single slipped 0.47% in late trade against the dollar, with EUR/USD to trade at 1.1154, after briefly reaching three-and-a-half month highs of 1.1246 immediately after the report.

    The Sterling pound was lower against the dollar, with GBP/USD down 0.58% at 1.4502 late Friday.

    Greenback felt against the Swiss franc, with USD/CHF edging down 0.12% to 0.9918.

    The Australian and New Zealand dollars were weaker, with AUD/USD down 0.33% at 0.7176 and with NZD/USD sliding 0.30% to 0.6705.

    Meanwhile, USD/CAD was little changed at 1.3745, after data showed that the number of employed people in Canada fell by 5,700 in January, disappointing expectations for an increase of 5,500 and after a revised 1,300 gain the previous month. Canada’s unemployment rate ticked up to 7.2% last month from 7.1% in December, compared to expectations for an unchanged reading.

    The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback’s strength against a trade-weighted basket of six major currencies, was up 0.48% at 96.98 late Friday, off three-and-a-half month lows of 96.04 struck earlier in the session. The index still ended the week down 2.61%, the largest weekly percentage decline since October 2011.
     
    Ahead of the coming week, investors are turning heads to Wednesday’s testimony by Federal Reserves Chair Janet Yellen and Friday’s data on U.S. retail sales for further indications on the strength of the world’s largest economy. Friday’s preliminary report on euro zone fourth quarter growth will also be closely watched amid heightened expectations for more easing by the European Central Bank in the coming months.

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