The dollar tried to recover some of its heavy losses it was slapped with in the last few days after a bunch of soft data showing weakening growth for the services sector and an ongoing contraction in the manufacturing sector, while factory orders fell for the second month. Adding to the negatives, unemployment claims for last week rose more than expected, stoking worries over possible softness in the next non-farm payrolls data due today.
The global turmoil and the slowing economy altered the expectations of the markets toward another rate hike by the Federal Reserve, with the bets now amounting to less than 50% for just one rate hike this year. William Dudley, a member of the rate-setting committee, signaled the bank's readiness to put off hiking till clouds clear out.
The U.S. dollar index, which measures the currency against a basket of major rivals, crept up 0.17% to 96.68, after plunging one percent yesterday to a three-month low at 96.26. The index is on track for a hefty weekly loss of 3.0%, barring sudden movements after the release of the jobs report.
The greenback rose 0.16% against the euro to 1.1190, not far from another three-month trough at 1.1236. It edged up 0.23% versus sterling to 1.4556, while advancing barely against Japan's yen to 116.82, up 0.06% on the day and not fat from a two-week low at 116.52.
Asian shares were largely mixed, with Japan's Nikkei slumping 1.50% to a two-week low at 16,819, as investors worry over the abrupt strength of the yen and its effects on exporters earnings. Australian shares inched down 0.1%, but other markets were more upbeat, with China's Shanghai climbing 0.24%, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng jumped 0.60%.
Wall Street recorded modest gains at the end of its Thursday session, with energy shares carrying the day after a jump in oil prices. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 80 points, or 0.49% at 16,416, while NASDAQ Composite gained 5 points, or a meager 0.12% to 4,509. S&P 500 added three points, or 0.15% to end at 1,915.
Investors wait for crucial data today, most importantly, the U.S. non-farm payrolls report for January, expected to show an increase of 190,000 jobs, compared to December's 292K. A surprise on the upside would support the beleaguered dollar.
From Canada, the unemployment rate is forecast to remain unchanged at 7.1% in January. The Canadian dollar has been making strong inroads lately, touching a two-month high on Thursday against its southern partner, so a result in line with expectations or better would help it keep the momentum.