US Dollar Surges on Strong Retail Sales, Jobless Claims

The US dollar posted gains against some of its most traded currency rivals on Thursday, buoyed by strong data supporting claims that the US economy is doing rather well. This comes as the nation keeps all its eyes on the findings from special counsel Robert Mueller’s two-year investigation into collusion between President Donald Trump and Russia.

According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), retail sales advanced 1.6% in March, following a 0.2% decline in February. This beats market forecasts of 0.6% and represents the biggest increase in retail trade since September 2017. When automobiles, gasoline, food services, and building materials are excluded from the report, retail sales rose 1%.
The improved retail data, which showed the biggest gains in automobile sales, was ostensibly boosted by tax refunds.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) found that initial claims for state jobless benefits fell 5,000 to a seasonally-adjusted 192,000 for the week ending April 13. The median estimate was an increase to 205,000. Unemployment benefits tumbled to their lowest since September 1969.
Manufacturing numbers also came in and they were mixed.
The Philadelphia Federal Reserve Manufacturing Index was 8.5 in March, down from 13.7 in the previous month. Economists had penciled in a reading of 9.5. The Markit Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) was unchanged from the previous month at 52.4, lower than the forecast of 55 – anything above 50 indicates an expansion. It was also reported on Wednesday that industrial output declined as manufacturing production was flat and mining output declined 0.8%.
To finish off the holiday-shortened trading week, traders will gain insights into the real estate market through building permits and housing starts.
The EUR/USD currency pair fell 0.59% to 1.1229, from an opening of 1.129, at 17:17 GMT on Thursday. The USD/JPY slipped 0.08% to 111.97, from an opening of 112.06.

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