FOREX-Dollar at two-week low after U.S. weekly jobless claims rise unexpectedly

* Treasury yields retreat after U.S. jobless data

* Pound stems losses vs. USD after hard profit-taking hit (Updates prices, market activity, comments to U.S. market open; changes dateline, previous LONDON)

NEW YORK, April 8 (Reuters) - The U.S. dollar fell to a two-week low against a basket of currencies on Thursday, tracking Treasury yields lower, after data showed a surprise rise in U.S. weekly jobless claims.

The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly rose last week. While the increase likely understates rapidly improving labor market conditions as more parts of the U.S. economy reopen and fiscal stimulus kicks in, it was bad enough to knock down the greenback.

The U.S. Dollar Currency Index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six currencies, was 0.3% lower at 92.137, its lowest since March 23. The dollar also hit a two-week low against the Japanese yen.

Thursday's data followed the release in the previous session of minutes of the Federal Reserve's March policy meeting, which showed Fed officials remained cautious about the risks of the pandemic - even as the U.S. recovery gathered steam amid the massive stimulus - and committed to providing monetary policy support.

"With the job market moving in the wrong direction, it underscored this week’s Fed minutes that emphasized how the economy was far from what the Fed considers to be healthy," Joe Manimbo, senior market analyst at Western Union Business Solutions in Washington, said in a note.

"Data that reinforces the Fed’s dovish stance is likely to keep Treasury yields and the dollar anchored," he said.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell will speak at a virtual International Monetary Fund conference later on Thursday.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury yield was around 1.632% on Thursday, after dipping below 1.63% overnight. It hit 1.776% late last month, its highest in more than a year.

The U.S. currency - which appreciated this year, helped in part by a rally in U.S. Treasury yields - has come under pressure in recent sessions as yields have retreated.

Sterling steadied against the dollar and the euro on Thursday, stanching its losses after a bruising bout of profit-taking, with traders optimistic about its near-term prospects after a strong start to the year. The pound was up 0.14% against the greenback.

With the dismal jobless claims data weighing on the greenback, the Canadian dollar edged higher, recovering from a one-week low.

(Reporting by Saqib Iqbal Ahmed and Ritvik Carvalho; additional reporting by Kevin Buckland in Tokyo; editing by Larry King and Jonathan Oatis)

04/08/2021 14:33

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