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Dollar jumps on strong employment data

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NEW YORK — The dollar jumped on

Thursday after data pointed to a strong jobs market a day before

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Friday’s highly anticipated employment report for December,

supporting the prospect that the Federal Reserve could keep

hiking rates at an aggressive pace.

Private employment increased by 235,000 jobs last month, the

ADP National Employment report showed on Thursday. Economists

polled by Reuters had forecast private jobs increasing 150,000.

Separately, the number of Americans filing new claims for

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unemployment benefits dropped to a three-month low last week,

while layoffs fell 43% in December.

“The payrolls and the wage data is very key for the Fed’s

stance,” said Lou Brien, a market strategist at DRW Trading in

Chicago, though he noted that Fed moves were not contingent on

one piece of data, with each release representing more “tiles in

the mosaic”.

Friday’s government jobs and wage data for December is this

week’s major economic focus as investors gauge how high the U.S.

central bank is likely to raise rates, and for how long.

It is expected to show that employers added 200,000 jobs in

the month, while average hourly earnings are predicted to have

risen 0.4% in December for an annual increase of 5%.

Consumer price data for December, due on Jan. 12, is

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expected to show that prices gained by 0.1% in December.

Fed funds futures traders increased their bets on Thursday

that the Fed could hike rates by 50 basis points at its meeting

concluding on February 1. It is now seen as a 48% chance, up

from 31% on Wednesday morning, with a 25 basis points increase

sill seen as marginally more likely.

Brien said that it would likely take “something

extraordinary” in terms of much higher than expected inflation

or wage gains for the Fed to raise rates by 50 basis points next

month, with Fed officials now preferring to move in more gradual

25 basis point increments as they evaluate the impact of higher

rates.

The Fed slowed the pace of its rate hikes to 50 basis points

in December, following four consecutive 75-basis point

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increases.

Minutes from the Fed’s December meeting released on

Wednesday emphasized “the need to retain flexibility and

optionality when moving policy to a more restrictive stance,”

but also expressed concern about any “misperception” in

financial markets that their commitment to fighting inflation

was flagging.

Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic said on Thursday that

inflation was the biggest headwind facing the U.S. economy right

now and U.S. Federal Reserve officials “remain determined” to

lower it back to the central bank’s 2% target.

The dollar was last up 0.65% against the euro at

$1.0536, and up 0.91% against the Japanese yen at

133.81.

The yen has rebounded dramatically from a more than 30-year

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low of 151.94 reached in October. After a tweak last month,

traders are betting the Bank of Japan (BOJ) will soon fully

abandon its yield curve control (YCC) policy.

The BOJ is putting more emphasis on an inflation gauge that

excludes fuel costs and will likely raise its projections for

the index’s growth in quarterly forecasts due this month,

sources told Reuters.

“We’re on our way out of YCC, so it’s just a question of

timing,” said James Malcolm, head of FX strategy at UBS.

Sterling was down 1.25% at $1.1905.

========================================================

Currency bid prices at 10:01AM (1501 GMT)

Description RIC Last U.S. Close Pct Change YTD Pct High Bid Low Bid

Previous Change

Session

Dollar index 105.0500 104.2100 +0.82% 1.507% +105.0600 +103.9800

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Euro/Dollar $1.0536 $1.0605 -0.65% -1.67% +$1.0631 +$1.0535

Dollar/Yen 133.8100 132.6250 +0.91% +2.08% +133.8250 +131.6900

Euro/Yen 140.99 140.62 +0.26% +0.49% +141.3500 +139.9900

Dollar/Swiss 0.9361 0.9298 +0.70% +1.25% +0.9362 +0.9263

Sterling/Dollar $1.1905 $1.2059 -1.25% -1.53% +$1.2077 +$1.1904

Dollar/Canadian 1.3546 1.3480 +0.51% -0.01% +1.3549 +1.3471

Aussie/Dollar $0.6761 $0.6839 -1.12% -0.80% +$0.6845 +$0.6762

Euro/Swiss 0.9862 0.9857 +0.05% -0.34% +0.9871 +0.9834

Euro/Sterling 0.8849 0.8794 +0.63% +0.06% +0.8862 +0.8792

NZ $0.6232 $0.6291 -0.93% -1.84% +$0.6309 +$0.6230

Dollar/Dollar

Dollar/Norway 10.2285 10.0950 +1.38% +4.28% +10.2395 +10.0415

Euro/Norway 10.7741 10.6780 +0.90% +2.67% +10.8028 +10.6716

Dollar/Sweden 10.6649 10.5019 +0.91% +2.47% +10.6716 +10.4853

Euro/Sweden 11.2375 11.1360 +0.91% +0.79% +11.2560 +11.1357

(Additional reporting by Harry Robertson in London; Editing by

Alex Richardson)

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