By Karen Brettell
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The dollar jumped on Thursday after data pointed to a strong jobs market a day before Friday's highly anticipated employment report for December, supporting the prospect that the Federal Reserve could keep hiking rates at an aggressive pace.
Private employment increased by 235,000 jobs last month, the ADP National Employment report showed on Thursday. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast private jobs increasing 150,000.
Separately, the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits dropped to a three-month low last week, while layoffs fell 43% in December.
"The payrolls and the wage data is very key for the Fed's stance," said Lou Brien, a market strategist at DRW Trading in Chicago, though he noted that Fed moves were not contingent on one piece of data, with each release representing more "tiles in the mosaic".
Friday's government jobs and wage data for December is this week's major economic focus as investors gauge how high the U.S. central bank is likely to raise rates, and for how long.
It is expected to show that employers added 200,000 jobs in the month, while average hourly earnings are predicted to have risen 0.4% in December for an annual increase of 5%.
Consumer price data for December, due on Jan. 12, is expected to show that prices gained by 0.1% in December.
Fed funds futures traders increased their bets on Thursday that the Fed could hike rates by 50 basis points at its meeting concluding on February 1. It is now seen as a 48% chance, up from 31% on Wednesday morning, with a 25 basis points increase sill seen as marginally more likely.
Brien said that it would likely take "something extraordinary" in terms of much higher than expected inflation or wage gains for the Fed to raise rates by 50 basis points next month, with Fed officials now preferring to move in more gradual 25 basis point increments as they evaluate the impact of higher rates.
The Fed slowed the pace of its rate hikes to 50 basis points in December, following four consecutive 75-basis point increases.
Minutes from the Fed's December meeting released on Wednesday emphasized "the need to retain flexibility and optionality when moving policy to a more restrictive stance," but also expressed concern about any "misperception" in financial markets that their commitment to fighting inflation was flagging.
Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic said on Thursday that inflation was the biggest headwind facing the U.S. economy right now and U.S. Federal Reserve officials "remain determined" to lower it back to the central bank's 2% target.
The dollar was last up 0.65% against the euro at $1.0536, and up 0.91% against the Japanese yen at 133.81.
The yen has rebounded dramatically from a more than 30-year low of 151.94 reached in October. After a tweak last month, traders are betting the Bank of Japan (BOJ) will soon fully abandon its yield curve control (YCC) policy.
The BOJ is putting more emphasis on an inflation gauge that excludes fuel costs and will likely raise its projections for the index's growth in quarterly forecasts due this month, sources told Reuters.
"We're on our way out of YCC, so it's just a question of timing," said James Malcolm, head of FX strategy at UBS.
Sterling was down 1.25% at $1.1905.
Currency bid prices at 10:01AM (1501 GMT)
Description RIC Last U.S. Close Pct Change YTD Pct High Bid Low Bid
Dollar index 105.0500 104.2100 +0.82% 1.507% +105.0600 +103.9800
Euro/Dollar $1.0536 $1.0605 -0.65% -1.67% +$1.0631 +$1.0535
Dollar/Yen 133.8100 132.6250 +0.91% +2.08% +133.8250 +131.6900
Euro/Yen 140.99 140.62 +0.26% +0.49% +141.3500 +139.9900
Dollar/Swiss 0.9361 0.9298 +0.70% +1.25% +0.9362 +0.9263
Sterling/Dollar $1.1905 $1.2059 -1.25% -1.53% +$1.2077 +$1.1904
Dollar/Canadian 1.3546 1.3480 +0.51% -0.01% +1.3549 +1.3471
Aussie/Dollar $0.6761 $0.6839 -1.12% -0.80% +$0.6845 +$0.6762
Euro/Swiss 0.9862 0.9857 +0.05% -0.34% +0.9871 +0.9834
Euro/Sterling 0.8849 0.8794 +0.63% +0.06% +0.8862 +0.8792
NZ $0.6232 $0.6291 -0.93% -1.84% +$0.6309 +$0.6230
Dollar/Norway 10.2285 10.0950 +1.38% +4.28% +10.2395 +10.0415
Euro/Norway 10.7741 10.6780 +0.90% +2.67% +10.8028 +10.6716
Dollar/Sweden 10.6649 10.5019 +0.91% +2.47% +10.6716 +10.4853
Euro/Sweden 11.2375 11.1360 +0.91% +0.79% +11.2560 +11.1357
(Additional reporting by Harry Robertson in London; Editing by Alex Richardson)
(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)