On a busy day in the U.S., the Labor Department said that the country’s economy created 242,000 jobs in February, well above anticipations for an addition of 190,000 new jobs. The unemployment rate was reported to remain unchanged at an eight-year low of 4.9%, in line with expectations.
However, average hourly earnings dropped by 0.1% last month, retreating from the 0.5% increase registered in January. The decline in average earnings lowered the year over year average earnings increase to 2.2% from a reading of 2.5% in January. The downbeat wage figures signaled that consumer inflation is probably to remain weak. Federal Reserve policy makers are closely looking at inflation in their attempt to hike rates once again.
Higher interest rates would stimulate the greenback by rendering it more appealing to investors looking for higher yields. The U.S. dollar which tracks the greenback’s performance against a group of six other major rivals fell to two-week lows of 97.03, before consolidating at 97.34. The dollar index finished the week with a 0.85% loss.
The single currency went up to one week highs against the greenback, with EUR/USD reaching 1.1043, before correcting to 1.1004 in late session, gaining 0.45% for the day. The U.S. dollar finished the day little changed against the Japanese yen, with USD/JPY trading at 113.76. Meanwhile, the dollar touched one-week lows against the franc right after the release of the jobs report, before retracing to the upside, with USD/CHF trading at 0.9928 on late Friday trade.
The commodity-related currencies registered solid gains, amid a bounce in commodity prices. The Australian and New Zealand dollars gained more than 1%, whereas their Canadian counterpart advanced to three-month highs, as strong trade data lessened probabilities of a rate cut.
Market participants will also be monitoring inflation and trade data from China over concerns that the world’s second economy is heading for a rough landing.