Investing.com – The dollar remained within striking distance of a 12-year high against the other major currencies on Thursday, after the release of mixed U.S. economic reports did little to dampen optimism over the strength of the U.S. recovery.
In a report, the U.S. Department of Labor said the number of individuals filing for initial jobless benefits in the week ending January 9 increased by 19,000 to 316,000 from the previous week’s total of 297,000.
Analysts had expected initial jobless claims to decline by 6,000 to 291,000 last week.
Separately, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York reported that its general business conditions index increased to 10.0 this month from a reading of -3.6 in December. Analysts had expected the index to rise to 5.0 in January.
In addition, the Commerce Department said that U.S. producer prices fell 0.3% last month, compared to forecasts for a 0.4% decline, after falling 0.2% in November.
The core producer price index eased up 0.3% last month, above expectations for a gain of 0.1% and following a flat reading in November.
The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback’s strength against a trade-weighted basket of six major currencies, was down 0.22% at 92.10, close to the fresh 12-year peaks of 93.15 hit overnight.
USD/CHF hit three-year lows of 0.7462 before retracing to 0.8765, down 13.90% and EUR/CHF hit lows of 0.7710, before pulling back to 1.0319, plummeting 14.08% for the day after the Swiss National Bank abandoned its exchange rate cap against the single currency and cut interest rates deeper into negative territory.
The SNB surprised markets by scrapping the 1.20 per euro exchange rate floor it imposed in September 2011, in a bid to stave off deflation and prevent the continued appreciation of the safe-haven franc against the single currency. The central bank also cut rates to minus 0.75%, from minus 0.25% before.
“This exceptional and temporary measure protected the Swiss economy from serious harm. While the Swiss franc is still high, the overvaluation has decreased as a whole since the introduction of the minimum exchange rate,” the SNB said in statement.
The move indicated that the SNB sees a high likelihood that the European Central Bank will implement quantitative easing measures at its upcoming meeting next week.
Meanwhile, EUR/USD declined 0.64% at 1.1712, holding above 10-year lows of 1.1580 hit earlier in the session.
The single currency remained under pressure after an interim ruling by the European Court of Justice on Wednesday was seen as clearing the way for the ECB to implement quantitative easing measures at its upcoming meeting on January 22.
The advocate general of the European Court of Justice, Pedro Cruz Villalon, advised judges to approve the ECB’s Outright Monetary Transactions program, a measure which was launched in 2012.
The dollar remained lower against the safe-haven yen, with USD/JPY down 0.69% to 116.52, near Wednesday’s one-month lows of 116.05, while GBP/USD rose 0.21% to 1.5265.
The commodity-linked currencies remained sharply higher, as oil prices regained ground. AUD/USD rallied 1.62% to 0.8281 and NZD/USD surged 1.98% to trade at 0.7871. USD/CAD tumbled 0.99% to 1.1830, hovering below Wednesday’s more than five-year high of 1.2018.
Later in the day, the U.S. was to publish data on manufacturing activity in the Philadelphia region.
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