Mixed U.S. Data Pushes Dollar Lower Against Rivals

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By Brendel Balaga

The dollar edged lower against major currencies on Thursday, after mixed U.S. economic figures muted demand for the greenback. The decision by the European Central Bank holding interest rates at current levels weighed the dollar further as the Euro gained support.

USD/JPY declined 0.11% to trade at 109.70.

The Labor department said the number of persons availing initial jobless benefits in the week leading to April 16 went down by 6,000 to 24,000 from the previous week’s total of 253,000. Analysts were projecting jobless claims to grow by 10,000 to 263,000 last week.

Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia said its manufacturing index for April plummeted to negative territory at -1.6 compared to last month’s reading of 12.4. Economists were expecting a slight decline to 8.9.

The EUR/USD rose 0.48% to trade higher at 1.1351 after European Central Bank decided to leave its benchmark interest rate unchanged at current levels of 0.0%, in line with earlier projections.

The ECB also maintained its monthly quantitative easing program at roughly €80 billion.

Elsewhere, the dollar was weaker against the pound and the Swiss franc, with GBP/USD inching higher 0.68% to trade at 1.4429 and with USD/CHF declining 0.45% to trade lower at 0.9680.

Retail sales declined more than expected at 1.3% in March, compared to projections of a 0.1% decrease, according to the U.K. Office for National Statistics. Year-on-year, retail sales grew 2.7%, lower than the 4.4% increase projected by analysts.

Excluding automobile sales, core retail sales slumped 1.6% on the month, disappointing analysts, who expected a 0.4% decline.

The Australian dollar was stronger, with AUD/USD gaining 0.42% at 0.7827, while NZD/USD stood steady at 0.6977.

USD/CAD slipped 0.10% to 1.2642.

Most commodity-hinged currencies gained after oil prices skyrocketed to their highest level since November after the International Energy Agency predicted a sharp drop in non-OPEC production this year.

The U.S. dollar index was lower, falling 0.36% at 94.21.

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