Dollar ticks higher in thin trading on cautious economic optimism

The dollar ticked up against a basket of rival currencies in holiday-thinned trading on Thursday as a dip in weekly jobless claims data helped ease fears that a surge of COVID-19 infections would curb the economic recovery.

New claims for U.S. unemployment benefits fell in the week leading up to Christmas and benefits rolls slid to their lowest level of the pandemic era the previous week, data showed, signaling no impact on employment from the rapidly spreading Omicron variant.

The better-than-expected report initially helped lift the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average indexes to all-time highs on Thursday, extending their record-setting runs before they receded in late trading.


The dip in jobless claims came even as COVID-19 infections in the United States hit a record high for the second day running, Reuters data showed.

“The market is blasé about many of the risks emanating from Omicron right now in terms of growth and the supply chain,” said Adam Button, chief currency analyst at ForexLive.

Low holiday trading volume also meant that moves in the market were likely exaggerated, he added. “By and large, the end of the year is dominated by flows, not fundamentals,” he said.

At 3:15 Eastern time, the dollar index , which measures the greenback against six major peers, was up 0.158% at 95.976, after having been negative in the overnight session.

“There’s definitely cautious optimism around, though the dollar is mostly just recovering the ground it lost yesterday afternoon,” said Kit Juckes, head of FX strategy at Societe Generale in London.

That optimism could be seen in the dollar pulling away from the safe-haven Japanese yen, he said.

The yen touched 115.205 per dollar, its weakest in a month and not far off its November trough of 115.51.

The euro was down 0.19% at $1.1325 after touching a one-month high on Wednesday.

Sterling rose 0.13% to $1.3506.

The Turkish lira continued to slide and was down 4.68% at about 13.1 per dollar, after having fallen 6.9% on Wednesday.

Bitcoin steadied after two days of losses. The world’s largest cryptocurrency was last up 0.72% at $47,568, well off its all-time high of around $69,000 in November.

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