NEW YORK: The US dollar was slightly lower against a basket of major currencies on Friday on the heels of the December jobs report that missed expectations.
The dollar index weakened after the Labor Department said nonfarm payrolls rose by 199,000 last month, well short of the 400,000 estimate.
But analysts noted underlying data in the report appeared sturdier, with the unemployment rate falling to 3.9% against expectations of 4.1% while earnings rose by 0.6%.
“All those places that are very important for economic growth continue to grow so that is fantastic,” said JJ Kinahan, chief market strategist at TD Ameritrade in Chicago.
“So the top line number is a miss, the underneath stuff all seems to be doing good, albeit not at the pace we would like to see it.”
The report also increased expectations the Federal Reserve will begin to hike interest rates at its March meeting, with futures on the federal funds rate implying a 90% chance of a hike, up from 80% on Wednesday.
The dollar index fell 0.269% at 96.001. Even with Friday’s weakness, the dollar was still on track for a weekly gain, its first in three weeks.
The euro was up 0.3% to $1.1325 as it strengthened against the greenback in the wake of the payrolls report, after showing little reaction to data showing euro zone inflation rose to 5% in December.
Euro zone policymakers have said they expect inflation to gradually slow down in 2022 and a rate hike will likely not be needed this year.
The Japanese yen strengthened 0.12% versus the greenback at 115.71 per dollar. The yen has taken the brunt of the damage while the greenback has strengthened recently, with the dollar hitting a five-year high versus the yen earlier this week.
Sterling was poised for its third straight weekly gain and was last trading at $1.356, up 0.24% on the day, even after data showed growth in Britain’s construction sector cooled in December as the Omicron variant of coronavirus spread.
Despite the rapid spread of the Omicron variant, investors have increasingly viewed it as unlikely to derail the global economy or more aggressive actions by central banks.