US Dollar Climbs Against Major Peers on Broad Job Gains in January

After spending most of the day trading sideways, the US dollar quickly climbed higher against most of its major peers on Friday following the latest update to jobs gain. Broad gains in the private sector and a record low unemployment rate provided the greenback with enough lift to break away from stale trading to erase most of the losses it had suffered yesterday.

The private sector in the United States hired more workers than expected in January, according to a fresh data release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nonfarm payroll employment increased by 200,000 jobs last month following a gain of 160,000 in December and beating estimates of an increase by 186,000 jobs.

The jump in the hiring activity has maintained unemployment unchanged from the previous month at 4.1%, the lowest level in 17 years. Meanwhile, hourly pay also increased 0.3% to $26.74 per hour, pushing wage growth to have its biggest increase in more than 8 years, rising by 2.9% in the twelve months leading to January.

The construction sector had the biggest number of new workers in January, adding as many as 36,000 jobs, followed by new employees in food services with a 31,000 job gain. The healthcare sector had about 26,000 new employees, while information companies lost 6,000 employees.

Today’s data came amid expectations of a broad pickup in economic activity that may lead to a gross domestic product growth of more than 5.0% in the first quarter of 2018. In addition, the solid wage growth supports the Federal Reserve‘s case for higher interest rates, which is often good news for the US dollar.

The CME Group FedWatch tool shows a 77.5% chance of an interest rate hike as soon as March 21, when the Federal Open Market Committee ends its next monetary policy meeting.

EUR/USD traded at 1.2455 as of 14:25 GMT on Friday after touching 1.2438 at 13:50 GMT, the pair’s lowest level since yesterday. EUR/USD began trading today at 1.2507. GBP/USD was at 1.4165 after falling to 1.4144 at 14:05 GMT, a level last seen on January 31. GBP/USD started the day at 1.4261.

The Dollar Index, which tracks the strength of the US currency against a basket of its major peers, rose to 89.19 as of 14:17 GMT today from 88.67 yesterday.

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